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Duke men's basketball 2019-20 player preview: Michael Savarino

Savarino averaged only 7.3 points and 2.9 assists his senior year of high school, but was captain of a 28-4 team that made the semifinals of the NCISAA 4A state tournament
Savarino averaged only 7.3 points and 2.9 assists his senior year of high school, but was captain of a 28-4 team that made the semifinals of the NCISAA 4A state tournament

Michael Savarino

Year: Freshman 

Height: 6-foot-0 

Position: Guard

Last year’s statline: N/A 

Game Breakdown: Due to Savarino’s generous height listing at 6-foot-0, the grandson of Coach K has limited opportunities to attack the basket or defend non-guard positions. But what he lacks in versatility, Savarino makes up for with picture perfect jump shot mechanics, an unselfish pass first mentality and effort, something his “poppy” probably instilled in him at a young age.

The point guard has a decent pull-up jumper and is above average at creating space for his own shot, but he excels in set 3-pointers and setting up his teammates. The Durham, N.C., native shot 91 percent from the free throw line and 35 percent from the 3-point line during his high school career. Time and time again, Savarino’s tape showed his teammates looking for and trusting him with long-range shots, and he did not disappoint.

Above all, it is clear that the Durham Academy product knows the game of basketball very well. With his family pedigree, that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, but from his numerous diving plays and dimes to cutting teammates, Savarino knows what it takes to win games.

Role on the Team: If Coach K’s usage of walk-ons in the past is of any relevance, Savarino won’t see much if any time on the court this season—that rings true especially for any crucial minutes Duke will play this year. Saving an extreme Duke blowout of an inferior nonconference opponent, Savarino’s role will be limited to providing effort in practice and support from the bench. 

This is a year for Savarino to learn the game. In the future, his leadership and experience at Duke could prove to be very valuable for future Blue Devil rookies looking for guidance in a program anchored by one-and-dones. Savarino can make an impact for Duke, even if he doesn’t break a sweat on the hardwood.

NBA Comparison: Savarino’s limitations in size and athleticism have molded him into a guard who picks his spots well, has a knack for getting open and finding open teammates. I’d say the best comparison for Savarino is Matthew Dellavedova, who has made a career out of putting his all on the court every night despite not being the biggest or fastest player out there. Something that I think Savarino and Dellavedova share is an understanding that a mixture of hustle and a high basketball IQ are two of the most important things to have if you don’t have the flashy dunks or highlight film to make up for it.

Projected Stats: 0 PPG, 0 RPG, 0 MPG 

Check back later for the rest of the Blue Zone's player previews.

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