Duke Basketball: 4 Reasons Rasheed Sulaimon Can Be Coach K's Biggest NBA Star
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For those that don’t know, Duke has a big-time scorer coming its way next season in Rasheed Sulaimon.
Sulaimon, the No. 12 prospect in 2012, according to ESPN, averaged almost 28 points per game in his senior year of high school. He has looked outstanding in several venues, including U18 Team USA, the McDonalds All-American Game and throughout his AAU career.
He looks like he will be a great player because of his playmaking ability, length and shooting touch. He should give Duke an essential offensive spark next season.
While I am not guaranteeing Sulaimon will be Coach K’s biggest NBA star, this article will explore why he has a very real shot at that title.
1. Lack of Competition Among Former Duke Players
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Let’s be honest here: There aren't a ton of NBA stars from Duke. Coach K has won a lot at the college level, but his players don't always translate to the NBA level.
Furthermore, only two Duke alumni from the Krzyzewski era have claimed an NBA title (Danny Ferry with San Antonio in 2003, when he played under 10 minutes per game and Shane Battier last season with the Miami Heat).
While Kyrie Irving has just begun his promising career, there aren't many other players out there.
2. Good Size with Room to Grow
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This will be key for Rasheed Sulaimon as he inevitably makes the transition to the NBA. While Sulaimon has a skinny frame, he will most likely put on some weight in college and continue to get bigger as he moves to the NBA.
More important than Sulaimon’s weight is his good height and long arms. Listed between 6'3'' and 6'5'', he could end up playing like Avery Bradley or Eric Gordon.
Sulaimon has a wingspan measured at 6'8'', which will allow him to be a natural defender. His size should help him adjust to NBA players.
3. He Has an NBA-Ready Game
One of the best things about Sulaimon, and the reason I am so high on him, is his NBA-ready game. Unlike Austin Rivers, who was Duke’s star shooting guard last season, Sulaimon relies much more on his ability to get to the hoop.
Sulaimon has also proven to be a good spot-up shooter—something which is key for NBA players. He already seems to have NBA-ready range for his jumpshot, although slashing and creating contact around the rim is his forte.
He appears to be an underrated ball-handler, which will give him versatility in the NBA and with Duke next season. He could easily slide over and play some point guard if his team needed it.
Because of his aforementioned length, he will also be a force on defense.
4. He Currently Has a Low Draft Stock
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For whatever reason, Rasheed Sulaimon has not gotten a lot of respect coming into college. While Scout.com has him ranked as their No. 1 shooting guard for the 2012 recruiting class, ESPN has him ranked No. 12 overall. Maxpreps.com had him at No. 20.
Despite looking at countless 2013 NBA mock drafts, I have yet to see one which included Sulaimon. That means that people assume he is going to stay in college for more than a year, or they simply don’t know him well.
Either way, this relative anonymity is going to help Sulaimon in his NBA career. If Sulaimon has a low draft stock and is convinced to stay in college for another year, Coach K will be able to help him even more.
If Sulaimon’s draft stock is low and he still goes into the NBA, he will likely get drafted by a better team in need of a shooting guard.
Sulaimon has given every indication that he will be a skilled player at the next level. While playing for Coach K will not give him the most eye-popping statistics, Sulaimon will continue to work on his game and eventually surprise a lot of people in the NBA.