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. Previously, we analyzed Lexi Gordon, Lee Volker, Amaya Finklea-Guity, Nyah Green, Celeste Taylor and Imani Lewis. Next up, we look at Jordyn Oliver:
In adding Jordyn Oliver, the Duke women’s basketball program has secured itself a capable point guard who adds great depth at the position. In two years at Baylor, Oliver was an admirable backup, helping her team to two Big 12 regular-season championships by providing reliable, responsible play and protecting leads.
Oliver played the majority of her limited minutes for the Lady Bears in the final moments of quarters, where her primary role was not necessarily generating much offense but protecting what the team had already put together. While not the most glamorous role, the 5-foot-10 guard performed admirably, keeping the wheels on the wagon and helping her team to the final buzzer.
At Duke, Oliver will most likely—but not certainly—slot into the backup point guard role again, as sophomore point guard Vanessa de Jesus seems poised for a breakout year at the position. However, Lawson has crafted a deep lineup this year, and Oliver, along with other players, could play some truly meaningful minutes off the bench.
This role really plays to her strengths as a player. The junior guard is very solid in her fundamentals, playing with strength and awareness while executing the right play at the right time. Watch this simple pick-and-roll: it’s a play any basketball fan has seen a million times, but these sort of fundamental plays are the cornerstone of any good team. Oliver keeps her center of gravity low, accurately reads the defense and adeptly dribbles the ball for two easy points.
One area Oliver really excels in is moving the ball quickly. This has translated into her having some very high assist-to-turnover ratios in her two years at Baylor, with her 2020-21 mark of 2.63 (50-19) putting her in elite company across the sport. Oliver's court vision and reaction time are very good, and her passing ability extends to the other end of the court where she can get the ball moving almost as soon as it’s in her hands, oftentimes for a fast break.
While her defensive abilities are somewhat unknown due to the limited minutes she has played, all signs point to the Prosper, Texas, native being strong in her own end, and she has the potential to grow into a very capable defender given her quickness and strength. However, offensively it remains to be seen what heights Oliver can reach. Offense wasn’t a huge aspect of her role with the Lady Bears, but she has shown flashes of untapped firepower. Beyond her passing skills, Oliver, when she does shoot, has a knack for adjusting her shot in the air to really ensure the points.
This clip, from Baylor’s first-round NCAA tournament matchup against Jackson State, exemplifies what Oliver has to offer as a player and shows one of the aforementioned flashes of talent yet to be completely realized. In this play alone, Oliver collects a steal, grabs an offensive rebound and makes the layup, truly demonstrating her court awareness, smart decision making, ball movement and offensive skills in just a few seconds.
Put simply, Oliver is the kind of player every team wants. A complete package of strength, skill and responsibility, she adds the depth at point guard that can help push Duke to the next level as a team.
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