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Freshman swingman Jayson Tatum is widely expected to be the first Blue Devil taken in the 2017 NBA ...

Stock Watch: NBA Draft Edition



The bell of the Blue Zone stock exchange has rung again, meaning it's time to take a look at who is rising and falling in a special draft stock version of our weekly blog. The Blue Zone will look at whose stock is on the rise and whose stock has taken a hit through Duke’s nonconference slate.

Bull market—Trending up

Luke Kennard: The guard has been Duke’s most consistent offensive weapon this year and leads the team in scoring at 20.4 points per game. Kennard’s improvement has a lot to do with his improved shooting percentage from beyond the arc—up to 42.7 percent this year from 32.0 percent as a freshman. The Franklin, Ohio, native has showcased improved footwork and has adjusted much better to the speed of the college game.

Kennard has slowly shaken the knock-down shooter label attached to him as a freshman to be more of a playmaker. His ability to create air space with simple jab steps and head fakes has made him a lethal weapon off curls near the elbows. Kennard finished with a career-high 35 points against Maine in November and made it clear that he is capable of scoring in a variety of fashions:

For a more comprehensive look at Kennard’s jump this season, check out DraftExpress’ latest scouting video.

As was the case to begin the season, scouts view the guard’s struggles on defense and lack of lateral quickness as liabilities in today’s versatility-driven NBA. But with his impressive start to the year, Kennard has catapulted himself into the National Player of the Year discussion and has the looks of a late first-round pick if he decides to leave Durham early.

Jayson Tatum: The 2016 Gatorade National Player of the Year in high school came to Duke with much fanfare and has not disappointed following his return from a foot sprain. At 6-foot-8 and with an NBA-ready body, Tatum has the physical features to stand out in college and capture the eyes of NBA scouts.

The forward is versatile enough to score in both the post and on the perimeter with a smooth shooting stroke. The freshman has also showed a refined skillset with advanced footwork that allows him to execute the kind of moves superstars make at the next level.

But the biggest positive from Tatum has been his ability to stay engaged on the defensive end and use his length to get in passing lanes and affect shots near the rim. The freshman’s stock will only continue to rise if he continues to impress on this end of the floor.

At this point, Tatum is nearly a lock to be a top-10 selection in the upcoming NBA Draft and will likely find himself in the top five depending on team needs come June.

Bear market—Trending down

Harry Giles: The forward’s mobility and energy level have been positives for the Blue Devils, considering Giles was off the court for more than a year before his season debut against Tennessee State Dec. 19. When healthy, Giles was pegged to be a potential top-three selection due to his ability to score at the hoop and dominate on the boards.

But the freshman’s adjustment to live action has been slow. Through just two games, the Winston-Salem, N.C., native has been lost on offense and looks rushed when he touches the basketball. Keeping in mind it was his first time on the court, Giles’ early struggles are captured in this possession against Tennessee State, when he bumps into Kennard after attempting to set a screen.

Although the freshman has slid down draft boards as he continues to shake off the rust following his ACL surgery, Giles has the ability to improve his stock in the coming months.

Marques Bolden: After being viewed as a late-lottery or mid-first-round prospect entering this season, Bolden suffered a lower-leg injury that kept him out for the majority of nonconference play. Similar to Giles, Bolden has struggled to adjust in his time on the court and doesn’t seem to fully trust his body yet.

A key for the big man will be to sustain his energy level throughout his time on the court. On multiple occasions, the freshman has fought hard to earn good post position, but has stopped working once the ball swings to the other side of the court. Defensively, Bolden must remain active on the glass and use his size to start affecting drives by opposing guards.

With a lack of a signature post move and some early questions about his quickness, Bolden is now being viewed as more of a late first-round prospect.

Grayson Allen: Strictly in terms of numbers, Allen does not appear to be having that bad of a year. The guard is second on the team in scoring and leads the team with 3.5 assists per game. But an early-season toe injury has prevented the junior from being as explosive driving to the hoop as he was a year ago. Considering Allen’s best NBA asset was his jumpshot, the junior’s 33.7 percent clip from beyond the arc this season has left a lot to be desired.

After entering the season projected to be selected near the middle of the first round, Allen’s struggles and another tripping incident have dropped him to the tail end of the first round in many mock drafts. The guard’s stock could continue to fall depending on his play following his indefinite suspension.

Frank Jackson: Unlike Giles, Bolden and Tatum, Jackson started the season healthy for the Blue Devils and immediately made an impact with a late game-tying 3-pointer against Kansas. Jackson’s stock continued to rise as he ignited a game-changing run against Michigan State Nov. 29, and the guard was even viewed as a potential lottery selection at one point.

But the freshman has not scored in double figures since Duke’s victory against the Spartans and appears to be dealing with a lower-leg injury of his own. After the return of his classmates from injuries, Jackson has also seen his time on the court and role in the offense diminish. He will likely get more playing time during Allen's suspension, and his decision to enter the draft or stay at school could depend on his performance in the next few weeks.


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