The promising 2020-2021 Duke basketball team: An early look

Duke basketball (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball forward Joey Baker (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

Projected depth chart (no particular order)

  • Point guard: Jeremy Roach, Jordan Goldwire
  • Shooting guard: DJ Steward, Alex O’Connell
  • Small forward: Jalen Johnson, Wendell Moore, Joey Baker
  • Power forward: Matthew Hurt, Jaemyn Brakefield, Henry Coleman
  • Center: Mark Williams

I think if we air on the side of realism, Duke basketball underclassmen Tre Jones, Vernon Carey Jr., and Cassius Stanley are all gone. I think Carey Jr. has more to work on than the other two, specifically with his defense and jump shot, but the accolades that he accrued after just one season in college might push him to make that leap. The kid was absolutely dominant and would likely be drafted within the top five or 10 most years if the NBA wasn’t so perimeter-oriented now.

Stanley needs to develop a killer instinct, but he showed great potential with his perimeter defense and shot this season — and that’s not even mentioning his off-the-charts athleticism. A team will draft him based on potential alone, and his advanced age for his class (he’s already 20) makes it even more likely.

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Jones actually just officially declared for the NBA Draft earlier today, so he is gone, and that wraps up an incredible two years for that young man. He improved in all areas that NBA scouts questioned after last season, so it seems like the right move from a basketball sense. His mid-range shot is absolutely deadly, plus he upped his 3-point percentage by 10 percentage points and became the alpha for Duke. Some team will likely select him in the 15-25 range.

To be vividly clear, both Carey Jr. and Stanley could return to Duke for another season (however unlikely), and I would not be surprised whatsoever. They each have aspects in their games that they could work on. The COVID-19 pandemic could also play a factor in the decisions, as there will not be much of an in-person review process of players leading up to the draft, which may encourage more individuals to stay another year.

Moore has already hinted at staying, and as I said before, he was always projected to be more of a multi-year guy. He needs to continue to work on his shot, decision-making, and handle.

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Hurt could very easily leave and likely get drafted in the second round, but another year in college would be worthwhile, and transferring and having to sit out really doesn’t make any sense.

O’Connell could go the graduate transfer route, but I don’t see it happening. He has more to gain, as he has a higher likelihood of winning a conference title and national championship with this Duke basketball team than going somewhere else to chase the lion’s share of touches.

Finally, let’s sum it all up with a look at what’s in store…