When trying to come up with which players will be in the court in crunch time for Duke next season, I keep coming up with four players. My current feeling is that Duke will want true freshman Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, and returnees Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore Jr. on the court most of the time.
We should see a vast improvement from Hurt and Moore, both of whom will be depended upon to lead via knowing the Blue Devils system of doing things. Ideally, you want some older players in the lineup but Duke will be a pretty young team, save two key backups, if you can call them that, in Jordan Goldwire and Joey Baker.
Jalen Johnson is a sure bet one and done talent and Duke will allow him plenty of freedom to grow his game while in Durham. Jeremy Roach will be handed the keys to point guard duties early on as well.
So, I see these four as starters for most of the season which begs the question, who will the fifth starter be? Well, to start, Duke will have a lot of players fill that role and it will come down to how players are working in practice and matchups.
When Duke goes big, they can look to freshman Mark Williams and to a lesser degree Jaemyn Brakefield and Henry Coleman. The staff will also have incoming Columbia transfer Patrick Tape in the mix in the frontcourt. I can see all of these players getting a start and when practice resumes, we will have an idea of who is adjusting to perceived roles.
As for the freshman, Brakefield and Coleman each bring their skillset to the mix. Brakefield is a solid offensive player who can stretch the floor and Coleman is a versatile hard worker around the paint. Williams can be a basket protector and a force in the paint and has continuously improved in the past two years.
But Duke can go smaller as well and this is where I enter another freshman D.J. Steward into the mix. He is a potentially prolific scorer and talented enough to fill that fifth spot. In fact, when I took a poll of the few people I trust, he seemed to be what most considered the best bet for the fifth starting spot.
But, hold on a minute. This is where we talk about Jordan Goldwire. Talk about a hard worker that will get after you defensively. And then there is Joey Baker who is always a three-point threat and a player who can do much more than that.
This is where I tell you that while I have penciled in some perceived starters, it does not mean they will have to play ironman minutes. In fact, there are many lineup possibilities.
Duke can go small and pressure the heck out of teams with Roach, Steward, Goldwire, Moore, and a big. Or they can try and match up with the likes of bigger teams with Williams, Johnson, and Hurt with some help from Tape.
The Blue Devils have tweeners as well to insert into the mix, so at least early in the season, Duke will be able to go as deep as they did a season ago with concern to their lineups. I will go out on a limb and predict up to ten players will get a start at some point in the coming season.
While Duke will be young, they will be deep again this season. The key will be to get back on campus and get accustomed to one another as we all await positive news on the virus which has yet to clear.
Also, keep in mind this is my early take on Duke hoops in 2020-21 and it will change as we get closer to the season. But for now, this is a gauge on what we might expect.
I will be discussing other aspects and possibilities concerning Duke Basketball as we tie several articles in as an early bird preview in the coming days where we'll answer a lot of team questions. And speaking of questions, send any into our bluedevilnation@twitter feed with the hashtag #AskBDN and we will address the best of them.