Duke's men's basketball opened its season Tuesday with a big win in Madison Square Garden. Now, let's look at how Duke's NBA talents are doing, including a check on one of the guests at the Blue Devils' win:
Barrett, Knicks, losing consistency
RJ Barrett and the New York Knicks had an extremely impressive run to start the season, winning five of their first six games. Barrett certainly played a role in those victories, showing consistency and maturation at the beginning of his third NBA season. He even posted a career-high 35 points when facing former Blue Devil Brandon Ingram and the New Orleans Pelicans. Barrett also visited his home arena Tuesday to watch the Blue Devils' win against Kentucky and shared some wisdom with the team postgame.
This week, however, looked much like last season for the Mississauga, Ont., native. While Barrett had his moments as he usually does, he displayed the inconsistent shooting and lack of efficiency he has in the past as his Knicks dropped two of their three games this week. It is no coincidence that their one win came when Barrett played his best, posting a double-double against the Philadelphia 76ers. However, the other two matchups saw him struggle from the field, failing to reach 10 points and shooting a combined 6-for-21. In order for the Knicks to return to the form that brought them to the playoffs last season, the former third overall pick will need to find some consistency.
Tatum back to leading middling Celtics
After a rocky start to the season, MVP candidate Jayson Tatum seems to be on his way back to form. Still adjusting to the new foul rules, Tatum is having trouble making his way to the free-throw line. His free-throw attempts are down to just 4.7 per game compared to 5.3 attempts from last season. However, he seems to be making his way out of the shooting slump that plagued his first few games.
After starting the season shooting just 37.3% from the field, he upped his numbers to 46.5% in his two outings this week. This number is slightly better than the 45.9% he shot over last season, a positive sign for Celtics fans who were becoming concerned over their star’s form. Not only was his overall shooting much better, but his three-point shot was explosive. He hit from distance nine times, shooting 60% for the week.
Outside of his scoring, his rebounding numbers were impressive as well. In both of the matchups, he had a double-double, bringing down 11 boards against the Mavericks and 12 against the Raptors. Look for Tatum to continue to find his form against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday evening.
Allen shows worth as a key piece for defending champs
Grayson Allen is looking like the steal of the offseason for the reigning league champions. After securing a massive contract—that some felt he didn't deserve—Allen has more than delivered in his play-time. The Bucks have struggled with injuries to start this season, and it has been the main cause of their 6-6 start. Allen, on the other hand, has been stellar. At the moment, he is posting a career-high 15.4 points per game and has been playing the most consistent basketball of his young career.
This week he is averaging 19.7 points per game and has helped the Bucks win two of their three matchups, including a win over the top-seeded 76ers. His 3-point shooting has been a large part of his improved scoring, as he went 13-for-28—or 46.4%—on the week. The former Blue Devil star has also only missed one of his 20 free throws on the season. Very few people expected Allen to contribute this much to what was considered a very complete team, but he continues to produce anyways. Fans will be paying close attention to whether he is able to maintain his production as Bucks stars return from injury.
Reddish struggles amid Hawks losing streak
Another Blue Devil from the 2018-19 season started off his third season in impressive fashion. In his first three games, Reddish averaged 18.7 points per game. Unfortunately, his entire team has struggled as of late. The Atlanta Hawks have now dropped five straight games, a run that was probably unexpected after reaching the conference finals last season. In the three games played this week, Reddish’s production dropped significantly.
He only recorded one total assist and eight total rebounds over the three matchups and shot a combine 10-25 from the field. His lack of production has played a role in Atlanta's tough stretch of losses. For a lottery pick, Reddish has still been relatively disappointing for the Hawks. He has seen his share of injuries, missing significant time last season, and that has played a large role in his struggle to find consistency. Hopefully, Cam will live up to the hype associated with his name at some point. Perhaps the start of that journey will come against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.
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