Who will be Duke’s second point guard?
Coming off of a championship run, Duke has, on the most part, replaced the pieces it lost to the NBA Draft with Chase Jeter, Brandon Ingram, and Derryck Thornton. That trio hopes to live up to the expectations Duke fans have after a year of watching Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, and Tyus Jones hold those positions down like pros. However, the hole in the roster left by captain Quinn Cook’s departure will prove difficult to fill. Cook’s contributions as a ball-handler, 3-point threat, and knockdown free throw shooter complemented his veteran leadership and allowed him to direct and jumpstart the offense as both a point guard and shooting guard. Thornton, who reclassified to the Class of 2015 after Jones announced his intention to leave for the NBA, is all but set to be the starting point guard and while his shooting numbers for the last two years (34% from 3, 72% from the free throw line) have a ways to go to fill Cook’s shoes, his elite ballhandling and court vision will surely help orchestrate a multifaceted offense.
However, as Duke’s only true recruited point guard on the team, Thornton may find himself overextended at times. Sophomore guard Grayson Allen, whose late season surge was capped by a heroic performance in the national championship game, may see some time at the point although his play when handling the ball in limited minutes last season was often hesitant and error-prone. Without a second true point guard, Coach K will have to get innovative when resting Thornton, possibly relying on Chase Jeter to draw defenders to the post and give spot up shooters like Allen and Luke Kennard the room to launch from the perimeter. In short, the absence of a facilitator besides Derryck Thornton will prove to be a challenge for the Blue Devils this season. Relying on a 18 year old student to come in and play over 30 mins is a lot to handle, especially for a guy who should be a senior in high school. If Thornton struggles to adjust or gets in foul trouble then the Blue Devils could be in trouble with very little ball handling abilities behind him on the bench.
Stats from maxpreps.com
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