Taking an In-Depth Look into the 2018-19 Blue Devils

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Unless you live under a rock, you know that Zion Williamson shocked the world and committed to Duke on Saturday night. With that, Duke has secured the top three recruits in the 2018 class, and the number 12 overall recruit, giving the Blue Devils the number one recruiting class for the fourth time in five years. But what does the starting lineup look like?

According to ESPN’s top 100 recruits for 2018 RJ Barrett is number one, Zion Williamson is number two, and Cam Reddish is number three. All three of which are going to Duke, as is the number twelve player, Tre Jones. But here is where it gets interesting, Barrett and Reddish are both small forwards and Zion Williamson is a power forward. So what would the starting lineup look like?

Duke has experimented with new generation starting lineups for years now, by that I mean not going with the traditional point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, center lineup. This year Duke is playing three guards and two forwards rather than the traditional lineup, so next year you can expect all three of the forwards to start.

Here is what the starting lineup will most likely look like next year:

PG:  Tre Jones, freshman, number twelve recruit in the ESPN top 100

SG: Alex O’Connell, sophomore

SF: RJ Barrett, freshman, number one recruit in the ESPN top 100

SF: Cam Reddish, freshman, number three recruit in the ESPN top 100

PF: Zion Williamson, freshman, number two recruit in the ESPN top 100

For the second year in a row Duke will have four freshman in their starting lineup, and an outlier at shooting guard. This means for the second year in a row Duke will have an in-experienced lineup that has not played against serious competition like the teams they will be playing. Which unfortunately means there will be growing pains just like there has been this year.

Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish will all have to get used to their new roles, and that will take some time. You can expect to see all three of them make some mistakes, but around the beginning of ACC play it will click, just like it looks to have this year. When it does click this is a team that will simply overpower the competition, even more so than this year’s team.

As for Alex O’Connell and his production, you can expect him to have a coming out year similar to that of Luke Kennard’s sophomore season. This season we have seen flashes of what O’Connell is capable of, but because of the talent Duke has, he hasn’t gotten much playing time. If he is put in a position where he can thrive, like he will be in next year, you can expect him to do exactly that, thrive.

What does the bench look like?

No one has the answer to this question. We know all five players in Duke’s starting lineup will be leaving for the draft this year, but as for the bench, no one knows what it will look like. Marques Bolden is a walking question mark, many think he will transfer, as he should, but many think he will stay so he is someone to keep an eye on.

You know Antonio Vrankovic will be there, you know Mike Buckmire will be there, you know Brennan Besser will be there, and you assume Jack White will be there as well. But all of those players are players who see the court only when Duke is up by 30+ and that’s it. As for Javin Delaurier, you know he will be there, and you also know Jordan Goldwire will be there. The two big questions are what will Justin Robinson do, and what will Marques Bolden do.

Justin Robinson is a very talented player who hardly plays, and when he has this season it was because Javin Delaurier was injured, or Duke was up 30. Other than that he has not seen the floor. If he does decide to stick around he will be playing a very similar role to the role he is currently playing, because next years rotation will be a seven man rotation and that is it.

The only guys coming off the bench next season will be Jordan Goldwire and Javin Delaurier, and if Marques Bolden decides to stay, he will see the floor on occasion as well. Everyone else will see the court only when the Blue Devils have either won or lost the game and the outcome is not changing.

Next: What Impact Will Zion Williamson Have on Duke Basketball?

With that being said you can expect Marques Bolden to announce his departure from Duke shortly after the season, and I think you can expect to see Justin Robinson do the same, with others considering it as well.

Next years starting lineup sure does look fun, but its not always about the starting five.