#3 Duke Men's Basketball 2021-2022 Preview

Duke Blue Devils
2021-2022 Overall Rank: #3
Conference Rank: #1 ACC
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There is always a pretty good excuse for when Duke fails to make the NCAA Tournament. During the first three years of the Coach Mike Krzyzewski era starting back in 1980, the Blue Devils were building a program. They reached their first NCAA Tournament in 1984. They would not miss out until 1995, but that was the year Coach K only coached a dozen games, finishing 9-3 nonetheless, before he stepped aside for the rest of the year and the program finished 13-18 overall. After that we have to go all the way to 2020. Of course, the tournament did not happen that year. And last year Duke played just 24 games. Now it is Coach K’s farewell tour and you can be sure everybody involved with Duke will want this year to end with a deep NCAA Tournament run.
2020-21 Record: 13-11, 9-9
2020-21 Postseason: None
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski
Coach Record: 1,097-302 at Duke, 1,170-361 overall
Key Departed Players:
Matthew Hurt, Forward, 18.3 ppg
DJ Steward, Guard, 13.0 ppg
Jalen Johnson, Forward, 11.2 ppg
Jordan Goldwire, Guard, 5.8 ppg
Jaemyn Brakefield, Forward, 3.5 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Wendell Moore Jr, Junior, Forward, 9.7 ppg
Jeremy Roach, Sophomore, Guard, 8.7 ppg
Mark Williams, Sophomore, Center, 7.1 ppg
Joey Baker, Senior, Forward, 2.9 ppg
Keenan Worthington, Junior, Forward, 1.5 ppg
Key New Players:
Paolo Banchero, Freshman, Forward
Jaylen Blakes, Freshman, Guard
Stanley Borden, Freshman, Center
AJ Griffin, Freshman, Forward
Theo John, Senior, Forward, Transfer from Marquette
Bates Jones, Senior, Forward, Transfer from Davidson
Trevor Keels, Freshman, Guard
Unlike most teams in this time of extra eligibility, Duke returns just four scholarship players. For a team that struggled last season and can add plenty of talent right away, that may not be a terrible thing. Wendell Moore Jr. is the team’s top returning scorer at 9.7 points per game. The junior guard will keep hoisting up three-pointers, and would be a dynamic scoring threat if those started going in, but he is much better attacking the basket. Jeremy Roach will run the point after averaging 8.7 points and 2.8 assists a season ago. Center Mark Williams was a regular starter as a freshman too, averaging 7.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.4 rebounds. That gives Coach K some returning talent to build around, but it is the newcomers that has Duke fans excited. Paolo Banchero is the top freshman in this class and just about everybody already has him penciled in as the first pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. The 6-10 stretch forward can score from everywhere and will do plenty of work on the glass as well. Fellow five-star recruits AJ Griffin and Trevor Keels are great talents too and their toughness should at least provide a big boost on the defensive end of the floor. Theo John and Bates Jones are experienced senior transfers who will add depth to the frontcourt. John tallied 8.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks at Marquette last year. This will be a very interesting season for Duke for so many reasons. But on the court, it could come down to just how special Banchero can be right away. If he lives up to the hype, Coach K could finish his career in the Final Four.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 76.0 (61st in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.3 (204, 12)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.8 (49, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 45.5 (265, 12)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.4 (71, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.2 (108, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.1 (227, 13)
Rebound Margin: 1.8 (130, 7)
Assists Per Game: 16.2 (20, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.8 (143, 10)
Madness 2022 NBA Draft Rankings:
#2 Paolo Banchero
#6 AJ Griffin
#13 Mark Williams
#35 Trevor Keels
Madness 2021 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#2 Paolo Banchero
#17 AJ Griffin
#18 Trevor Keels
#95 Jaylen Blakes