Which Blue Devils will be drafted where?
The Duke season is over, which marks the end of a career for Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler.
Kyrie Irving and, so say experts, Mason Plumlee could also make the jump to the pros.
The next question awaiting the Blue Devils is: who will leave, where will they be drafted, and how will they perform?
Nolan cried when his Duke career ended, but what is his NBA future?
One of Duke’s two NBA-bound seniors, Smith has proven his ability to lead and mold his game to what his team needs. He has been a point guard and a scorer, as well as a slasher and a shooter. He did not complain when Kyrie Irving returned, and it is clear he is the emotional leader of the Blue Devils (no pun intended).
That being said, he does not project as a strong starter in the NBA. He is a mediocre NBA athlete at best, and most likely will have to continue to play a combo guard role as he lacks the mentality to be a true point guard.
But most of all, he is a known product, which always seems to work as a negative on draft day but will look attractive to a team that needs what he offers. He will be a solid contributor off the bench, managing the offense, playing solid defense, scoring when needed, and be able to fill in at either guard position.
Ceiling: a more mature Rodney Stuckey.
Was Derrick Williams' facial a signal of things to come for Singler in the NBA?
Another day, another NBA-bound Blue Devil with subpar athleticism.
Singler regressed this year, disappearing at times and losing the soft touch on his jumper that made him tempting as a small forward. In a weak draft he will most likely slip into the first round, and could play a role on the end of the bench for a team that already has most of its spots filled.
His athleticism will never allow him to guard starting threes in the NBA, but his size isn’t close to what’s needed at the four. His maturity, much like teammate Nolan Smith’s, will be key in his ability to find a role and develop his game to fit the NBA.
He has the potential to be a team's combo forward off the bench one day, stretching the defense and playing smart basketball against most teams' second units.
Ceiling: Charlie Villanueva, except with hair.
Will Kyrie come back to lead the Blue Devils next year?
It’s still possible that he goes first overall, but his underwhelming NCAA performance and his 11-game season made it at least a little bit likely he stays in school. Next year’s Duke team will miss seniors Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler, and Irving could really shine (much as he did early in the year with the two on the floor).
That being said, he’s one of few elite players that could enter this year’s class. He’s a leader, creative at the hoop, a dynamic scorer, and yet plays with a point guard’s mentality. With physical, scoring PGs like Derrick Rose, John Wall and Russell Westbrook taking over the NBA, Irving—while not projecting as dynamically as those two—has a chance to be next.
If I'm picking first overall, I'm taking Irvin if he comes out. Over Sullinger, Derrick Williams, you name it.
Ceiling: A lesser, scoring-oriented Chris Paul.
Are athleticism and height alone enough to get Mason Plumlee drafted highly?
Quite simply, there is no way he comes out.
He has intrigued scouts since his days in high school, but thus far at Duke he hasn’t had the chance and/or drive to show what he is capable of. His 7.2 PPG, 8.4 RPG line is less than awe-inspiring, and he showed little in terms of one-on-one moves.
He could use another year at Duke as their third scoring option (excluding the influx of talented freshman Austin Rivers, who could shift the outlook). He needs to develop a go-to move, because right now almost all of his buckets come off open layups, running the floor, and scramble points.
Should Plumlee come out, his athleticism and height will get him drafted, but it would most likely be in the second round. He needs time to adjust to the speed of the NBA—the speed of the ACC often proved to be plenty—and to develop a go-to post move. Irving/Cook, Curry, Rivers, Kelly and Plumlee will be close enough to an NBA lineup for Mason next year.
Ceiling: a more athletic Andris Biedrins.