A stacked class of newcomers mark head coach Kara Lawson's first major accomplishment at Duke. Heading into the 2021-22 season, we take a look at film from Duke women's basketball's newest players, starting with graduate transfer Lexi Gordon:
Shooting, shooting, shooting. That’s the name of the game for Lexi Gordon.
The redshirt senior transfer from Texas Tech shot over 46% eFG on unguarded catch-and-shoot in each of the past two seasons, per Synergy Sports, with around 40% of her points coming from beyond the arc according to Her Hoop Stats.
Gordon provides all kinds of shooting from three. She excels off-ball, spotting up, cutting, coming off screens, and rotating to open space. She’s got an advanced feel for the latter, putting stress on defenses when they collapse on dribble penetration.
Despite her shooting percentages taking a hit from 2019-20 to 2020-21 — her accuracy from three dropped over 7% — Gordon’s form remained superb, and her form is highly repeatable, leading to similar numbers on spot-up and off-dribble shots. The drop in her percentages appeared to be a function of a greater usage rate (something that should be of no concern on Duke’s stacked 2021-22 roster), and an increase in defensive attention.
Gordon also flashed the ability to create some offense in space off the bounce, highlighting the versatility of her jumper in the midrange. With her play-creation likely being third or fourth on the Blue Devils’ totem pole while she’s in the game next season, Gordon should get easier looks in these situations despite moving to a more competitive conference.
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Gordon’s defense, however, is a bit of a mess. She played a good deal of both man and zone in Texas Tech’s system, and, despite what Synergy says, fared similarly in both.
In man defense, Gordon’s size puts her on the wing or by the short corner, meaning she generally defends off the ball. She likes to face-guard off-ball shooting threats, and is decent at this denial, but face-guarding defenders cannot provide help. When her assignment is not a great shooter, she’s often susceptible to backdoor cuts or can lose them during forced rotations or loose balls.
In zone defense, Gordon is quite adept at knowing her assignments and when to exchange players and how long to hold them for. But she’s mediocre at defending flashes behind her and gets caught on screens far too often.
Given the defensive talent Gordon finds around herself at Duke, and given the superior level of playing and coaching in the ACC as compared to the Big 12, Gordon may find herself targeted by actions meant to force her into covering ball-handling wings. Her footwork will need to improve over what she showed in Lubbock, Tex., if she wants to avoid this.
Gordon has flashed some defensive skill from time to time, though. You don’t get this kind of block on Baylor star NaLyssa Smith without great core strength and hand-eye coordination.