As basketball season quickly approaches, the Blue Zone takes a detailed look at Duke men’s basketball’s 2022-23 roster, with a preview of each player. Previously, we’ve highlighted Stanley Borden, Spencer Hubbard, Max Johns, Kale Catchings, Ryan Young and Christian Reeves. Next up is Jaylen Blakes:
Last year’s statline: 4.5 MPG, 1.0 PPG, 0.5 APG
Game breakdown: Jaylen Blakes is entering his second season with the Blue Devils and is one of only four returning Duke players. Of those four, he only trails Jeremy Roach in terms of experience on the court. Blakes made the most of his 94 total minutes by playing hard on both sides of the ball. His defense is the most valuable aspect of his game and, with more minutes, will benefit this new-look Blue Devil team.
The Somerset, N.J., native's most impactful game last season came against SC State where he played a season-high 18 minutes. Although he did not stuff the stat sheets, he showed the ability to contribute for a substantial stretch of game time. Blakes is not going to pop out on the box scores, but he does the little stuff that matters. He is also a willing playmaker, which will shine even more this season with the plethora of scoring options Duke has.
Role on the team: Despite only being a sophomore, Blakes is one of the more experienced players on the roster. He was a part of the Blue Devil's Final Four run last season and learned, with that team, what it takes to overcome adversity. Therefore, his voice will likely ring much louder this year. He will be important in helping set the tone in the locker room and in practice.
The 19-year-old is capable of playing either guard position for Duke. Roach and Tyrese Proctor will likely be getting the bulk of the minutes at the one and Dariq Whitehead and Jaden Schutt the bulk of the minutes at the two, but Blakes is certainly in that next man up role. Should an injury promote someone like Proctor to the starting lineup, like the one Whitehead currently faces, Blakes could easily find himself as one of the first guards off the bench.
NBA comparison: Blakes is a defensive playmaker whose high energy makes him an emotional engine for the team. Patrick Beverley of the Los Angeles Lakers brings that same vigor. Beverley makes his money by being gritty on defense, diving for loose balls and setting his teammates up for success. This season, Blakes will have the opportunity to continue bringing those same intangibles to the Blue Devils.
Projected stats: 6.0 MPG, 1.0 PPG, 0.7 APG
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