Four key takeaways from Duke basketball’s first intrasquad scrimmage

Duke basketball guard Jordan Goldwire (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball guard Jordan Goldwire (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball forward Jalen Johnson (USA Today Sports) /

A third takeaway from the first Duke basketball scrimmage…

3. Jalen Johnson could be Duke’s X-factor

There is no doubt that Jalen Johnson is a highly talented player. The question that I have had is what exactly his role will be and how he fits into the rotation. While those questions still don’t have answers, the five-star freshman forward’s talent alone will make him a big factor in the success of this team.

The highlight video showed off plenty of his talents. It seemed like every other play was a Jalen Johnson throw down. He’s an elite athlete who should provide Duke basketball fans with some fireworks. There was one particularly impressive dunk, off a nice touch pass from Jordan Goldwire, where Johnson came down the lane and slammed it with one hand around Henry Coleman.

It wasn’t just high-flying acts that were impressive. Johnson also showed off his ability to see the floor and make tough passes. He had a really nice pass off a post up to a cutting Patrick Tapé. If Johnson can become a reliable passer, then his value to Duke’s offense becomes immense. It could allow for the Blue Devils to get more cuts to the basket and ultimately higher percentage shots.

As I mentioned earlier, Johnson is a very capable ballhandler. His ability to both push the ball and finish in transition could make him one of the deadliest open-court players in the country. He scored 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting, and the highlights showed him knocking down a three from the top of the key.