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Duke 2013 -14 Position Previews: Shooting Guard

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Round two of the Position Previews as we tackle the Two Guard


Scott - There's been talk of a logjam at the shooting guard position, and while at first glance, it seems plainly obvious, I think that the way that K (1) uses (or better put - doesn't succumb to the orthodoxy of) positions, and (2) K's reluctance to go deep on his bench come ACC play, may alleviate that some. Essentially, Duke is going to have up to 5 players that can play at least 2 of SG, SF, and PF. If Matt Jones and/or Andre Dawkins earn "ACC Minutes," I can certainly envision lineups where 2 of our 3 designated SGs are in the game at the same time quite often. As for the rotation itself, from everything I'm hearing, Matt Jones may be good enough to force K into a real 8 man rotation deep into ACC play next year. I hope that's true. But I'm from Missouri on Dawkins. Anything we can get from him is gravy, as I think he is likely our 5th best guard, with potentially a pretty steep drop between him and #4.

Discussing the players themselves, I think Sulaimon can be all-ACC and in the running for all-American next year if he improves at the same rate we've seen so many Duke freshman improve in their second year (Cook, Singler, Smith, etc.). The guy has moxie, and although it can get the better of him sometimes, that's something he can work on harnessing. I do think that he can take on some ball handling responsibility when Quinn's out to change things up, and I look forward to seeing his dribble penetration improve to match his already excellent stroke.

I hope all the hype for Matt Jones is real. You can't have enough 6'4" to 6'6" shooters on your team that can get to the basket on occasion and defend. If K goes to another 7-8 man rotation next year and Matt Jones is the odd man out, I can already hear the teeth gnashing over it. I believe that if he is "Sulaimon-good," he should have every opportunity to get 15-20 minutes next year. I hope that's true.

As for Andre, I think he may get "Ricky Price-d" out of playing time if he comes back. That said, having his known shooting ability on the bench to try to wake us up out of a shooting slump would be excellent. Imagine in the first half of Miami (at Miami) having the ability to put a guy like Dawkins in to jump start the offense. Duke didn't have that off the bench this year. Between Matt and Andre, Duke should have some real offense weapons to jump start the team when the starters are flailing early in big games.

My Mississippi St. Bulldog friends tell me that Rodney Hood can play SG in a pinch, and that's probably his position in the NBA. We won't need that this year, Rodney, but thank you. Still, at the end of the day, especially if we switch on defense like I think we will, there isn't going to be much of a difference between what's being asked of the SG and SF position at Duke, other than perhaps use of size.

Bart - In my mind it will be Andre and Matt Jones competing for minutes behind Rasheed and, while I think as highly of Jones as anyone, my guess is that Andre's experience with the Duke system plus K's propensity to lean towards experience when doling out minutes means it's advantage Andre. They are similar players, but Jones is a better attacker of the basket while Andre is the better shooter. It will probably come down to who can spell Sulaimon with the smallest amount of defensive drop-off. Jones is an unknown quantity on defense and Andre is known to be a little lacking in that department ( though he has the advantage of knowing exactly what's expected of him and will be supremely motivated, one would imagine). I could also very easily see Andre sliding over to the 3 and picking up minutes there as Hood's backup along with Murphy, freeing up more minutes for Jones that way.

Sulaimon is, to my mind a second-team all ACC player next year and an ACC- POY/ All-America candidate if he stays for his junior year. A year of experience will enhance his ability to manage his own intensity and aggressiveness, allowing him to refine all qualities of his game, including leadership. I could honestly see him being named a team captain, though one would expect the 3 upperclassmen will take those roles.

I imagine the competition at what is now our deepest position will be fierce. One of the great things about the kind of depth we have on the perimeter (is there a better backcourt rotation in the country ??) is that we can afford to be extremely aggressive with our ball pressure without worrying about fouls. Once K goes into "short-bench mode" in conference play, I look for Rasheed to play at least 30 minutes (his average this year) a game.

McCleod - Scott and Bart have it covered pretty well. I guess in my mind I still have Andre Dawkins as a wild card. I just have no idea what he’s going to bring. He was wildly inconsistent 2 years ago, going off for 30 or so and then disappearing for a few games. I would always watch his first shot closely, knowing that would tell me what kind of game he would have. It goes in, Dre is here and will make an impact. It misses, and he may go 2-10 from 3. I think most of the problem was between his ears, which the year off was supposed to address, so let’s hope it did. Here’s also hoping his D will pick up…

To me, Rasheed’s biggest asset was his ability to get open and hit the mid-range jump shot, most of the time right around the FT line. Not many players do that, and it seems not many teams can defend it. That really sets him apart as he can get by his man for that jumper but has also shown the ability to get closer to the rim and finish or dish. If he can keep his head up when things aren’t going his way, I agree that he’ll climb the rankings towards All-ACC and All-America before he’s done.

I think Sheed gets his minutes, since he’s a proven quantity to K, so the level of play of Matt Jones and Dawkins will determine who will spell Sulaimon first, or perhaps who’s first in if Duke goes small and puts one of those guys at the 3 for Hood. If we’re in need of offense, I can see that happening instead of Murphy or Hairston.

With respect to team captains, it’s usually upperclassmen, and it’s usually 2 or 3 guys. Upperclassmen are Srs Thornton, Dawkins and Hairston and Jrs Cook and Hood. We’re only projecting 2 of those guys to start, and I would be surprised (and perhaps impressed) if Hood is even in the running solely because he hasn’t yet played a game. That means you have to name Cook a captain, right? You have to have a captain starter, right? Tri-captains Cook, Thornton, and Hairston?

Alex - Lots of good stuff so not as much for me too add. Sulaimon starting seems a given and a big jump in production seems likely as there are a lot of points-scored that need to be replaced from this season. As for being All-ACC worthy, I sure hope so, but do keep in mind there are going to be some new talented teams added to the ACC next year, so those awards are going to get tougher to come by. His main area to improve in my view is learning to positively channel his emotions. He is a fiery guy who just as often let his emotions spiral him down as he let them fire him up in a good way. I was gushing over Rasheed early this past year, and if his number would have been available I probably would have purchased my first ever Duke jersey. I expect good things from him.

Matt Jones is really f-ing good. I absolutely expect him to get 15-20 minutes next year. His rep is much the same as Sulaimon: great shooter, able ball-handler, excellent defender, wants to guard the opposition's toughest assignment. From what I saw of him last summer and on TV, that seemed right on. I think defense will be the key as to whether he or Dawkins gets the first nod off the bench.

Speaking of Dawkins, I hope he has used his time away to his best personal and b-ball advantage. Keep in mind that this off-year is just getting him back on his regularly scheduled academic year - since he came to Duke early. Floor for him is an emotional, towel waving guy from the bench who provides instant O. Ceiling for him is cracking the starting lineup as a third guard. (Seems like Quinn, Sheed, Hood and Parker are shoo-ins... but the fourth could be any one of a number of players) I am rooting like hell for the guy - I hope its closer to the latter.