With Duke gearing up for the 2013-14 season and the NBA Draft less than a month away, we took to Twitter to answer some questions our readers submitted to @dukebasketball.
There's a lot to talk about now, so let's dive in:
Bobby Colton: As we learned last season, the starting lineup can change without any warning whatsoever. All through the exhibition season we were led to believe Quinn Cook and Alex Murphy would both start, yet when Duke opened up the season it was Tyler Thornton and Rasheed Sulaimon running with the first unit. As far as I can tell, there will be four guarantees in the starting lineup. Cook will be the team's starting point guard. The 6-foot-1 guard out of Washington D.C. earned the assignment after averaging 11.7 points and 5.3 assists per game last season. Cook proved to be a true distributor and displayed a refined 3-point shot that made defenses stay honest. Sulaimon will start on the wing due to his ability to be an impact two-way player. He could very well be Duke's best offensive and defensive player this season. Jabari Parker, the freshman ranked No. 2 in his class by ESPN, will start at one forward spot and could very well be the team's best player this year. Sophomore transfer Rodney Hood also has a forward spot locked in. In his freshman year at Mississippi State, Hood showed considerable potential by averaging 10.3 points and 4.8 rebounds for the Bulldogs.
That leaves one more spot in the front court. The candidates for that spot include sophomore Amile Jefferson, redshirt sophomore Marshall Plumlee and senior Josh Hairston. I expect this spot in the starting lineup to be fluid all year, but my guess is that head coach Mike Krzyzewski will give a vote of confidence to his senior and start Hairston opening day. There will be an open competition this offseason between the three players, and though Hairston may be the least skilled of the trio, he provides experience that neither of the other two can offer.
BC: Mason Plumlee is currently on the outside of the lottery looking in. He seems like a good fit for the Boston Celtics at No. 16—a team coached by Doc Rivers, who saw plenty of Plumlee when his son Austin played for the Blue Devils. The Atlanta Hawks, who hold picks 17 and 18, also seem like a good fit, and their general manager is former Duke star Danny Ferry. There's still a chance he could find himself in the lottery to a team like the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 11 or the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 12, but the strong workouts by Indiana's Cody Zeller and Pittsburgh's Steven Adams have propelled them ahead of Plumlee on many draft boards. As for Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry, my guess is that neither get drafted at all. The fact that both players couldn't participate in the NBA Draft Combine hurt them. That being said, teams always are looking for shooters, which both players are. Curry has pedigree as his brother Stephen is verging on stardom and his father Dell played 16 NBA seasons. Kelly's shooting ability makes him a viable stretch-four, something almost all NBA teams have coveted of late. Given their injury concerns, Curry and Kelly may be the type of players teams look to scoop up shortly after the draft and see how they fare in Summer League action.
Daniel Carp: A case can be made for either, but at his point I would consider Winslow to be the more likely option. The Houston native is set to visit Durham this weekend, and has said that he won't waste any time in making his college decision. Duke and Arizona appear to be the two leading candidates vying for his services, but only Duke would give Winslow an opportunity to potentially play alongside fellow top recruits Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor. Jones and Okafor are widely considered to be a package deal, but rumors have swirled that they may be trying to bring Winslow into the fold now. The three are potentially going to visit Baylor together, but Duke is one of just five schools that remain on all three of their lists.
Kevon Looney is a bit of a wildcard at this point because he is a bit earlier in his recruiting process. He has hosted three coaches for in-home visits: Mike Krzyzewski, Florida's Billy Donovan and Wisconsin's Bo Ryan. Looney mentioned that Michigan State is also in the mix, and that his parents want him to make an official visit to Duke.
At this point, it is time that may be on Winslow's side. He will likely make a decision to commit before Looney does, so if Winslow chooses Duke, Looney will almost definitely take his talents elsewhere. It's very up in the air at this point, but I say the allure of teaming up with Jones and Okafor draws Winslow to Durham.
BC: This is a good question. It's really too early in the process to say with any accuracy who is more likely to be selected, but here goes my best guess. I'd say Curry is more likely to be drafted because of his pedigree. Though Kelly is a good shooter in his own right, Curry has a deadly touch from beyond the arc and could be a nice piece as a 3-point gunner in the mold of Daniel Gibson, who's played seven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers during which he's shot 40.7 percent from deep.
What works against Curry is the fact that he's had leg injuries in the past, not unlike his brother Stephen. He is also a bit undersized to play shooting guard—yet struggled as a point guard in college—and he is a work in progress defensively. As far as teams who would consider Curry, 3-point hungry teams like the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets are obvious options—though the Knicks don't have a second round pick and the Rockets own only an early second-round selection. Both teams could trade into the late-second round if they truly covet Curry however. The Los Angeles Lakers have also been rumored to have interest in Curry.
BC: I don't think Dawkins would have returned if he weren't going to play a significant role this season. Let's not forget that Dawkins is a very talented offensive player, a great athlete and is the lone remaining player from the 2010 national championship team—excluding now-assistant coach and former starting point guard Jon Scheyer. Look for Dawkins to play a key role for the Blue Devils, with a chance he earns his way into the starting lineup.
BC: Duke fans can only hope so. Marshall Plumlee underwent surgery after the season to fix a stress fracture in his left foot and will be inactive for another 2-3 months. Each of his first two seasons with the program Krzyzewski praised the youngest Plumlee and commented on how big a role he would play with the team, and each of his first two seasons Plumlee injured himself before the season and never really got his chance. With this surgery impeding his offseason development yet again, Plumlee may not be ready. However, with the lack of front court players, Plumlee may need to play even if he isn't ready. Don't expect him to start at the beginning of the season—though it's not out of the question—but he is the only true center this Duke team has on the roster.
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