Duke Basketball: Breaking Down Every Arrival and Departure
Part of the beauty of college basketball is the turnover of players. While it’s sad to see four-year players graduate, it’s exciting to bring in new players. As the composition of the roster changes, so too does the style of play.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski is extremely good at adapting to the skills of his players. Given the impact of the guys being lost and those coming in, the Blue Devils will be an interesting team in 2013.
Therefore, it’s worth examining what is lost as players leave and what’s gained with the incoming players.
Arrival: Jabari Parker
Parker is the marquee arrival, and Duke will need him to step into a star role right away. The Blue Devils lost a lot of scoring with the departure of Ryan Kelly, Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee. Someone will need to become a reliable scorer for the 2013-14 team.
Parker has big-time scorer potential. He has a good arsenal of post moves, a decent mid-range shot and a great ability to drive to the basket. Each of those scoring options will have to be utilized by Parker in order to keep Duke’s offensive engine running smoothly.
Parker will certainly add an athletic star to Duke’s roster, but he’ll also be counted on to grind in the paint. It’s uncertain how effective Marshall Plumlee and Amile Jefferson will be as sophomores.
Parker might be the most reliable post player available to Coach K.
Despite the spectacle that he can be on the court, Parker will need to do the small things like rebounding and interior help defending if Duke is going to be successful. In short, Parker will need to be the complete package.
At the end of the day, acquiring Parker was a major coup for Duke. He’s a player who can help in nearly every facet of the game, and he’ll surely be an integral part of the Blue Devils’ quest for a deep run in March.
Departure: Ryan Kelly
On offense, Kelly stretched defenses. From the power forward position, opposing post players had to move out to the perimeter to guard against Kelly’s three-point shot. Once the defense was spread out, Mason Plumlee could go one-on-one in the post and Duke’s guards could penetrate into an open lane.
At 6’11”, Kelly also gave Duke good size. On defense Kelly and Plumlee clogged the paint and prevented penetration. Kelly also had excellent shot-blocking ability.
So what Duke loses with Kelly gone is an offensive player that pulled post defenders away from the paint and a defender that played great help defense. The Blue Devils will struggle to replace him. Kelly was critical to the team on offense and defense even when he didn’t have the ball in his hands.
He was a team leader and a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Those are big shoes to fill.
Arrival: Rodney Hood
Hood is a fantastic player who can score in a variety of ways. Like Ryan Kelly, he is a forward who can stretch defenses with his ability to shoot from the outside.
Unlike Kelly, Hood isn’t as good a three-point shooter and isn’t as tall. Still, Hood may turn out to be Duke’s most versatile scoring option.
Hood marries a three-point shot with an ability to play in the post. Parker promises to be a good post scorer, but he’s only a freshman. Sulaimon and Cook had bouts of inconsistency. Hood’s ability to score inside or out should allow him to put points up even on bad shooting nights.
As an athletic slasher, he’ll have an opportunity to force defenses to collapse in on his drives. From there he’ll be able to dish the ball to an open shooter. That type of spread-out slashing offense might be the new face of the Blue Devils' offense, and Hood is perfectly suited for it.
Departure: Mason Plumlee
Though Plumlee didn’t live up to the Player of the Year potential that Duke fans hoped he had, Plumlee was an integral part of Duke’s success.
For all the criticism of Plumlee’s lack of post moves, he gave Duke consistent inside scoring and rebounding. He averaged 17.1 points and 10 rebounds per game (via ESPN).
This season Duke will have to replace that interior scoring and rebounding with Parker, who is just a freshman, and Jefferson or Marshall Plumlee, who haven’t yet proven themselves to have the scoring or rebounding prowess that Mason Plumlee had.
Duke’s lack of size might be something the Blue Devils can overcome, but Plumlee’s departure means that the team will have to change its playing style. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it indicates just how much of a factor Mason Plumlee was for Duke.
Arrival: Matt Jones
A hallmark of Duke under Mike Krzyzewski has been having an excellent shooting guard.
Matt Jones promises to be the next in a long line of dead-eye shooters. Like Jabari Parker, Jones has the ability to put up big point totals. Unlike Parker, Jones isn’t quite as versatile a scorer.
Jones has excellent range and a phenomenal ability to catch and shoot quickly with great accuracy. He can put the ball on the floor and drive into the paint, but at the college level he’ll need to increase his strength in order to muscle the ball up against post defenders.
Jones could also improve on his ball-handling skills. At this point he’s mostly a one-dimensional player with lights-out shooting ability, akin to Andre Dawkins. The problem for Jones next season is that being similar to Andre Dawkins isn’t as good as actually being Andre Dawkins.
With Dawkins returning to Duke, he figures to be the go-to three-point shooter off the bench. Jones, therefore, will be behind the experienced Dawkins on the depth chart. Nevertheless, in Jones the Blue Devils gain yet another shooting option for next season and a big-time scorer in future seasons.
Departure: Seth Curry
Even playing with an injury throughout his senior year, Curry was Duke’s best perimeter player. Curry had only six games all season where he played and didn’t score double digits (via ESPN). Again, despite the injury, Curry’s senior year ended with the best field-goal and three-point shooting percentages of his college career (via ESPN).
With Curry gone, the Blue Devils lose his scoring and a gutsy player with great intelligence.
Time and time again, Curry was Duke’s first option when the team needed an important score. As a result, Duke will be looking for a player to replace Curry’s clutch production. The Blue Devils will also need to find a new reliable three-point shooter.
Rasheed Sulaimon showed flashes of his three-point shooting ability but ultimately shot just 37.1 percent from behind the arc (via ESPN). With all the Blue Devils that will be able to drive the lane and a lack of size in the post, opponents will sag into the paint if they can. The only way for Duke to prevent teams from taking away drives is to stretch the defense with threes.
Without Curry, someone else will need to provide that three-point threat.
Arrival: Semi Ojeleye
Next season, Duke has a glut of wing players. Ojeleye figures to find himself pushed down the depth chart, but the incoming freshman has tons of potential.
In his final high school season, Ojeleye set the scoring record for the state of Kansas. It’s obvious that he can score in bunches. He’s also incredibly humble and willing to fill whatever role most helps his Duke team.
For now, that role might be simply playing spot minutes behind the likes of Hood and Parker. However, Ojeleye will surely be a crucial player as a sophomore and beyond for the Blue Devils.
And given his talent, it’s possible that Ojeleye inserts himself into next year’s rotation. On a team that will rely on a motion offense with multiple moving parts, Ojeleye’s athleticism and ability to penetrate might earn him substantial minutes.
Whether it’s this year or next, Ojeleye projects to be a perfect fit for the Blue Devils.