The Duke Blue Devils very well could be the team to beat in the ACC this season. What a surprise, since either they or North Carolina usually is every single year. Duke's starting five may look a little different from last year's team, but they are predicted to be very solid this season.
Here is a look at Duke's projected starting five to start the season:
Guard: Rasheed Sulaimon
Guard: Seth Curry
Point Guard: Quinn Cook
Power Forward: Ryan Kelly
Center: Mason Plumlee
With that said, read on to see bold predictions for each player of Duke's likely starting five.
Rasheed Sulaimon is ranked No. 12 in ESPN's Top 100 recruits for a reason. He is good. I mean, real good.
Sulaimon can drain shots from anywhere on the court, but he also can get the ball to the rim. If Seth Curry wasn't on the team, Sulaimon would most likely be the first option for Duke this season.
Sulaimon is coming in with a lot of talent and no one should be surprised when he wins the ACC Rookie of the Year Award.
It may have been with a little team called Liberty, but Seth Curry did average 20.2 points per game with them his freshman year. This isn't surprising since Curry was their go-to guy, shooting almost 17 shots per game.
Well, look for Curry to be just as reliable this year, but this time for the Duke Blue Devils, thanks to Austin Rivers leaving the team for the NBA.
Curry only averaged 9.9 shots per game last season, but he still managed to score 13.2 points per game. With a shooting percentage of 42 percent, Curry will rack up the points next season.
Keep in mind, that he will finally be playing at his natural position of shooting guard. Last season, he was basically a point guard.
A lot of people may want Amile Jefferson starting over Quinn Cook, despite the fact that they both play completely different positions, but Duke is has and will always be a guard filled team.
Therefore, Cook will start to begin the season and do wonders for the Blue Devils. Duke does not need Cook to score a lot of points next season. What they need him to do is find the open man and run the Blue Devil offense.
He has so many options to pass to next season, like Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, and Rasheed Sulaimon—yes, the rest of Duke's starting lineup.
Cook will thrive as the field general for Duke, so much so that he will be an elite point guard next season.
What makes this prediction so bold is the fact that Ryan Kelly will be playing at the power forward position, thanks to his 6'11'' stature.
However, Kelly has thrown off his opponents from time to time by making the long ball.
Last season, Kelly shot 40.8 percent from behind the arc. He may have only made 1.3 three-pointers a game on average, but that number will definitely increase this year. Kelly will have a bigger role for Duke this season, which will help make Kelly a top-five three-point assassin in the ACC.
Last season, Mason Plumlee was fourth in the ACC, with 9.1 rebounds per game, so this may not be that big of a stretch. However, Plumlee will become more of a threat this season on offense.
Plumlee did not return for his senior season to have a mediocre year. His 11.1 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game are going to seriously increase this season.
So much so, that Plumlee will lead the ACC in rebounds.
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