Duke played two game this weekend, one against Elon and one against Utah Valley University. Duke's prospects had arguably the biggest showing of the weekend, with Trevon Duval, Marvin Bagley, Gary Trent JR, Grayson Allen, and Wendell Carter all having big games. Beyond the box score, these prospects showcased what they can bring at the NBA level.
- Marvin Bagley III:
Bagley was the main player I was watching from Duke, as he is the highest rated prospect on the team, and arguably #1 on the big board. Bagley has elite athleticism and displayed it as an aerial threat and in transition. Bagley also has long strides that help him dominate in transition.
Bagley's best department from the two games was rebounding. He has an excellent combination of size, athleticism, and motor to successfully grab rebounds. In each of the first two games, Bagley grabbed ten boards. His motor is almost nonstop, which is something that would greatly benefit the Mavericks. Some other things that really impressed me from Bagley's game were his low post scoring and his ability to bring the ball up the court. The ability to bring the ball up the court shows potential for him to be a ball handler in the half court if he continues to make strides in that department. Bagley was nearly unstoppable versus a smaller Elon squad, but faced slightly more challenges versus UVU. Bagley was still able to finish well, going 11-17 from the field versus UVU, and 12-18 against Elon.
However, Bagley does have a lot of room to improve. Like most freshmen, he must add strength in order to play down low against NBA players. He must also continue learning the defensive schemes, as he was often out of position and forgetting to rotate. While that should be improved as the season progresses, it is a concern until shown otherwise. Additionally, his jump shot seems to be non-threatening at this point. While I do believe his shot has a lot of room to grow, defenses can currently sag off. His free throw performance has also been underwhelming, as he has gone a combined 2 of 9. It is impressive that he is able to get to the line well, but he must finish his chances at the line. Most importantly for Bagley is his lack of using a right hand. Bagley often went out of the way to use his left hand, causing more awkward shots and shot selection. He must improve his touch on his right hand, otherwise defenses can easily make him go right and limit Bagley's effectiveness. It is early in the season, meaning most of these flaws are very fixable.
- Gary Trent JR
Trent showed a lot of potential to be a near lottery pick this weekend. His shooting stroke is pure, and the results were solid as well: 4 of 5 against Elon and 3 of 8 against UVU. Trent showed potential to be a combo guard, as he's undersized for a 2, and has good size for a 1. Trent can be the lead ball handler at times and he can also play off ball. He excelled more as an off ball scorer in the first two games, but watching him initiate offense will be something to keep up with throughout the season. Like Bagley, Trent also has a high motor and does not give up on plays.
- Trevon Duval
Duval is Duke's primary point guard, and he is one of the best in college thanks to his excellent vision and elite transition play. Duval is nearly impossible to stop when he attacks the basket with a head of steam, as he can use simple straight-line drives as well as using driving moves such as a nice eurostep. Duval also excels in the drive & kick, thanks to his combination of driving ability and vision. On defense, he has a knack for reading passes and playing the passing lanes. He must improve his jump shot, and there is speculation that his motor is not always as high as it could be.
- Grayson Allen
Allen had a strong showing this weekend, showing his ability to drain threes quickly and effectively. He was arguably the best scorer on the team this weekend, averaging 20 points between the two games. He also showed his athleticism on an unsuccessful putback dunk. Allen will greatly benefit from the surrounding talent, which could help his draft stock.
- Wendell Carter
Wendell Carter is an athletic, well-built big man that had the most all-around game of any college player this season on Saturday versus Utah Valley: 12 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 4 blocks- nearly a 5X5. This was an amazing sight, and he also took three 3 pointers (1 of which was made). Carter has an elite frame and build, at 6'10 with a 7'3 wingspan and weighs 260 pounds. He is very strong, which can be a fault at times since he looks to overpower his defender too often, which not only can breed offensive fouls, but is something that often haunts young big men in the league. Carter must continue to develop more finesse ways to score, such as a wider variety of post moves or overall continuing to develop his three point shot. Carter's free throw touch is quite poor, which can be an indicator of how well his 3 point shot will translate.
Overall, this Duke roster is fun to watch. The whole starting five may get taken within the first 45 picks, making them arguably the most talented roster in the country. If you get a chance to watch them, I'd be more than glad to discuss their prospects. I'm very excited to track the performances of Bagley, Carter, Allen, Duval, and Trent, and see what elements of the game they improve upon.