#1 Duke Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Duke Blue Devils
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #1
Conference Rank: #1 ACC
Following an up and down regular season, Duke had an up and down NCAA Tournament as well. The Blue Devils finished just 11-7 in conference play. That was good enough to earn a four seed in March, but that still is not up to the programs’ expectations. In the NCAA Tournament, Duke slipped past UNC Wilmington 93-85 and Yale 71-64 to reach the Sweet Sixteen. Once they ran into top seeded Oregon though, this team was exposed in the 82-68 loss. However, there is a ton of talent returning, including Grayson Allen. The junior guard led the team with 21.6 points per game and knocked down 41.7 percent of his three-point attempts. With Grayson leading a loaded backcourt, this is a Duke team that can win the ACC…and the national championship.
2015-16 Record: 25-11, 11-7
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski
Coach Record: 970-262 at Duke, 1,043-321 overall
Who’s Out:
Three regular starters from last year’s team are gone though. Brandon Ingram, a big 6-9 wing, averaged 17.3 points and 6.8 rebounds as a freshman last season. The second overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft will not be easy to replace, but Coach Mike Krzyzewski was prepared to lose Ingram. Marshall Plumlee started all 36 games during his senior season, averaging 8.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. Derryck Thornton was a part-time starter last season. He struggled with his shot at times, but did average 7.1 points and 2.6 assists per game.
Who’s In:
With this impressive class joining a solid group of newcomers, Coach Krzyzewski may have to play a deeper rotation than usual. Harry Giles is the star recruit among a group of stars. Giles is expected to play just one season for Duke and the 6-10, 240 pound power forward has all of the tools to be the first pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He is a beast in the paint on both ends of the floor and has already garnered comparisons to Chris Weber. Jayson Tatum could be starting from day one at the small forward spot. He is a big, versatile 6-8 forward who can knock down shots. Once he gets a little stronger, Tatum will put up big numbers. Marques Bolden is a traditional big man who is college ready. He has the size, strength and skills to be very productive on both ends of the floor. Javin DeLaurier, Jack White and redshirt freshman Justin Robinson will likely have to wait their turn with so much talent in front of them. The lone newcomer on the perimeter is Frank Jackson. The 6-3 combo guard is a very good scorer and can handle the ball relatively well. Whether backing up Allen at the point or playing beside Allen as the shooting guard, expect Jackson to get plenty of quality minutes.
Who to Watch:
Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson figure to return to their starting roles this season. Jones is a 6-5 senior guard who can knock down a ton of three-pointers. He shot 41.5 percent from beyond the arc and only 40.8 percent overall from the floor. Jefferson was averaging 11.4 points and 10.3 rebounds through nine games before breaking his foot and missing the rest of the season. He is back for another go at his senior season. Jefferson is a great rebounder and a solid defender. Most of his buckets come from very close to the basket, but against certain defenders, he is more than capable of scoring plenty of points. He will do much of the tough work in the paint. With another experienced big man in Chase Jeter, Duke has a ton of options. Sophomore wing Luke Kennard was third on the team in scoring last season with 11.8 points per game, but is suddenly an afterthought with all of the talent coming into the program. If Kennard can start shooting more efficiently from long range, he could find a spot in the starting lineup. Starting or not, he is a dangerous scorer who can spark the offense.
Final Projection:
Duke’s biggest problem last year was on the defensive end of the floor. The team allowed 72.5 points per game, which ranked 11th in the ACC. And worse than that, they allowed the opposition to shoot 44.5 percent from the floor, which was 14th in the conference. The return of Jefferson and the addition of a bruiser like Bolden in the paint should help somewhat, but last year’s best shot blockers, Plumlee and Ingram, are gone. Duke must find a way to shore up their defense and keep the intensity up for the entire game if they want to win the ACC and make a serious run at a national championship.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Grayson Allen, Junior, Guard, 21.6 points per game
Matt Jones, Senior, Guard, 10.4 points per game
Jayson Tatum, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Harry Giles, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Amile Jefferson, Senior, Forward, 11.4 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 81.1 (17th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 72.5 (192, 11)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.0 (65, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.5 (234, 14)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.1 (26, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.5 (24, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.3 (85, 7)
Rebound Margin: -0.6 (210, 12)
Assists Per Game: 13.3 (171, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.8 (7, 2)
Madness 2017 NBA Draft Rankings:
#1 Harry Giles
#6 Jayson Tatum
#12 Marques Bolden
#24 Grayson Allen
#32 Frank Jackson
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#2 Harry Giles
#4 Jayson Tatum
#8 Frank Jackson
#15 Marques Bolden
#40 Javin DeLaurier