Freshman forward Zion Williamson led the White team to a 44-39 victory against the Blue team in Friday night's 20-minute Blue-White Scrimmage at Countdown to Craziness. Here are five observations from the first look at the 2018-19 Blue Devils:
Player of the night: Zion Williamson
Williamson got the biggest cheer of any player in the introductions prior to the scrimmage, and he delivered on the hype, throwing down a dunk for the White team's first points of the game. He added four more slams, including a powerful left-handed dunk that classmate R.J. Barrett declined to challenge in the paint.
The 6-foot-7 forward finished with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting and added a team-high five rebounds. The sole point of concern on his performance was two early fouls that may have sent him to the bench in a real game. Williamson also won the team's Iron Devil award for his offseason conditioning.
"What he does with his body is remarkable. He’s a competitor, he’s really a good passer, he dunks pretty well," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "He has got really powerful hands, where he took it out of one guy’s hands early and it was kind of a loose ball and he grabbed it and went off. We can’t teach that. That just comes from him."
Barrett led all scorers with 23 points, but took more than half of his team's shots.
Javin DeLaurier is a versatile starting option
Duke's five-star freshmen split up, with Zion Williamson and Tre Jones playing together on the White team and R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish teaming up for the Blue squad. Javin DeLaurier, Alex O'Connell and Antonio Vrankovic rounded out the starters for White, and Jordan Goldwire, Marques Bolden and Jack White also started for Blue.
The quartet of freshman starters combined for 58 points, and DeLaurier was the member of the supporting cast to separate himself from the pack the most. The 6-foot-10 junior showed off his range with a pair of triples and finished in double figures with 10 points.
"That was one of the glaring weaknesses in my game, so I was pretty upset last year when teams would effectively just not guard me," DeLaurier said. "That’s something I took pretty personally and I just spent a lot of time in the gym working on it."
Perimeter shooting is a question mark
Reddish, expected to be Duke's biggest threat from beyond the arc, missed a pair of triples in the early going, and no Blue Devil was able to get hot from long distance. The teams combined to shoot just 8-of-26 on 3-point attempts.
"Cameron hurt his rib on Tuesday, had a displaced fracture to the 10th rib, so he played really well tonight, considering that," Krzyzewski said. "Cam did a good job, but he wasn’t where he would be. Cam has been shooting the lights out."
Freshman Joey Baker did not start the scrimmage but was the first Duke player to knock down a 3-pointer on the White team, and he could earn more minutes than expected if he becomes a reliable shooter.
Solid point-guard play
It did not appear to be a coincidence that Jones led the winning team in the scrimmage, as he played all 20 minutes and did not commit a turnover. Meanwhile, the Blue team mostly ran its offense through Barrett and looked slightly less cohesive, finishing with eight giveaways.
"Either team that had Tre would be better. He controls the ball well and he gets it to people," Krzyzewski said. "He can score, but he’s looking for us to score, so that’s something that can really help this group. He’s obviously a really critical player for us, tough kid."
Fuzzy offensive identity
Krzyzewski said at Duke's media day Monday that the Blue Devils plan to use a five-out motion offense this season, but they have not gone all-in on this style just yet. With Vrankovic needing to be on the floor a lot in a 5-on-5 scrimmage, a pure fast-paced motion was difficult for the White team to run, but the Blue team did try several high pick-and-rolls with Bolden at the top of the key to free Barrett.
"It’s a great offense. It opens up the floor for everybody. Cam and R.J. and Tre, when they’re knocking down threes, it just opens up driving lanes for me, and when they’re driving, it opens up the 3-pointer for me," Williamson said. "If we move the ball so much, then we’ll create for each other just like the Warriors and the Celtics."
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