Duke basketball: 3 Blue Devils who must drastically improve

Duke basketball forward Wendell Moore (Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball forward Wendell Moore (Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Three areas for Duke basketball wing Joey Baker to improve

  • Defense (only 0.3 steals and 0.3 blocks per game last season)
  • Playmaking (0.5 assists per game for his career with almost all of his production coming as a spot-up shooter)
  • Consistency (three points or less in 35 of his 55 college games)

Of the nine or more players who could form the regular Duke basketball rotation next season, rising senior Joey Baker is one of a few who could just as quickly wind up in Mike Krzyzewski’s doghouse time and again.

Despite several promising performances beyond the arc, Baker has yet to carve out a constant role.

The 6-foot-6, 205-pound former four-star recruit has never played double-digit minutes in more than seven consecutive games. And Baker has only once put up back-to-back double-digit point totals. Both these feats came early on in his sophomore year, easily his most productive stretch thus far as a collegian.

Here’s a three-step guide to Baker solidifying his place within the 2021-22 Blue Devil scheme:

  1. Emphasize lateral movement in training this summer, pairing that with a ball-hawking mentality to no longer stick out like an exposable sore thumb on the defensive end.
  2. Develop a few more go-to moves when stuck in precarious situations, perhaps by tightening up the handles while crafting a more extensive array of solid jab steps and shot fakes, à la 2020-21 All-ACC Duke forward Matthew Hurt.
  3. Become more active without the ball, ceaselessly hunting out opportunities to get open both from deep and around the rim.

Why is it so imperative that Baker improve? Well, for one, he’s the lone fourth-year Duke basketball name on the roster. Furthermore, he’s likely to be a co-captain alongside this other upperclassman who also still needs a lot of work: