Duke Basketball: Looking Ahead to Next Season's Starting Lineup

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2013

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 24:  Tyler Thornton #3 of the Duke Blue Devils celebrates with teammates Quinn Cook #2 and Rasheed Sulaimon #14 and Thornton makes a shot at the buzzer at halftime against the Creighton Bluejays during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Center on March 24, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

After losing to Louisville in the Elite Eight, Duke must now turn its attention toward next season.

Continuing the team's standard of play as one of the top teams in the country will not be easy. The Blue Devils' top three scorers—Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly—are all seniors and will move on at the end of the year.

To make matters worse, the squad was not as deep compared to others around the country. When Kelly went down with a foot injury, there were usually only around seven players getting regular playing time.

However, the young players will have to step up as usual in order to keep winning games next season.

Here is a look at the projected starting lineup for the 2013-14 season.


Quinn Cook, Point Guard

This might be the most obvious decision that Mike Krzyzewski has next season. Quinn Cook has his faults, but he showed that he is more than capable of running Duke's offense.

The Washington D.C. native finished the year averaging 11.7 points, 5.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He also made 39.3 percent of his three-point shots and 87.7 percent of his free-throw attempts.

Of course, he will have to greatly improve his consistency heading into next season. The team cannot afford more zero-point games with fewer weapons around him next year.

Otherwise, Cook should be ready to play around 35 minutes per game running the offense at point guard.


Rasheed Sulaimon, Shooting Guard

When Rasheed Sulaimon was good this past year, he was very good. 

The freshman showed throughout the season that he could score in many ways. He can drive to the basket and finish at the rim, or he can make threes when he is left open.

However, he will have some competition for minutes next season. Andre Dawkins could return after missing the 2012-13 season, and his experience could be valuable. In addition, Tyler Thornton will get plenty of playing time with his ability as a lockdown defender.

Still, Sulaimon has star power and his scoring ability will be much needed next year.


Jabari Parker, Small Forward

Duke often plays with three guards instead of having a prototypical small forward in the lineup, but Jabari Parker is too good to ignore.

The incoming freshman is the No. 3 overall prospect in the country, according to 247 Sports' composite rankings

Parker's best asset is his versatility. He can play down low with other big men if needed, or he can stay on the perimeter and score from there. In addition, he is a great defender who can guard multiple positions.

He is the type of player that will fill up the stat sheet, and he will make the most of what is likely his only year at Duke before going to the NBA.

Semi Ojeleye could get some additional playing time, but the position is all Parker's.


Amile Jefferson, Power Forward

While Amile Jefferson played only sparingly last season, he showed in his time on the floor what made him such a highly touted recruit.

The forward needs to put on some strength to prevent opponents from pushing him around in the post, but he is very skilled around the basket and has the motor to get plenty of easy putbacks on the offensive end.

In addition, his athleticism will help Duke replace Mason Plumlee on both sides of the ball.

Jefferson took advantage of his opportunity when Kelly was out, and he should be able to do even better next season.


Josh Hairston, Power Forward

There is no one on the roster to be a true center next season, but Josh Hairston should be the second big man in the starting lineup.

Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee have more height and should become bigger factors next season. Murphy especially has a bit of a face-up game and his shooting ability will be helpful.

However, Hairston is the best defender of the bunch and his strength will allow him to better handle the bigger forwards that he will face throughout the year.

The squad will need players who can rebound and finish up close, and Hairston is the best one for that role.