2018 NBA mock draft May 17

The NBA Draft Lottery has finished and now teams can start putting their plans into place. With the NBA Draft in just over a month, who will some of these teams be targeting? Here is the 2018 NBA mock draft May 17:

1. Phoenix Suns- DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

Ayton has said it would be cool to play with Devin Booker and how good of a one-two punch it would be. The Suns have a nice crop of young wing players in Devin Booker, T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson, but they lack an inside presence. Ayton would give them that presence and then some. Ayton is a well-built and athletic big. He is a great rebounder, who often comes up with the ball with plenty of players around him.

2. Sacramento Kings- Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke

The 6’11” big man is athletic and can do everything on a basketball court, which includes shooting from deep at 39.7%. Sacramento was a lucky team in the lottery and can now get a real impact player. Bagley can slide in nicely with the Kings young core of De’Aaron Fox, Willie Cauley-Stein and Buddy Hield.

3. Atlanta Hawks- Luka Doncic, G, Slovenia

Doncic has the size of a wing player in the NBA but actually plays on-ball a lot for Real Madrid. He stands 6’6″ and is an excellent passer and playmaker. His three-point shooting has gone down over the last few years, so Doncic will have to work on that. The Hawks don’t have much talent on the roster and can play Doncic alongside Dennis Schroeder.

Michael Porter Missouri

Michael Porter Jr. (Photo by cbssports.com)

4. Memphis Grizzlies- Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri 

Porter can play the three or the four for the Grizzlies. He came back from his back injury and was rusty, but showed flashes of why he was rated so highly coming out of high school. Memphis has an aging roster and could use a young star like Porter, who can do almost anything asked of him on the court.

5. Dallas Mavericks- Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State

The Mavs tried to tank, but it backfired with the lottery results. Jackson is an athletic player, who protects the rim well. He can also stretch the floor, hitting nearly 40% of his threes over his one year at Michigan State.

6. Orlando Magic- Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

The Magic need good guard play and have a void after trading Elfrid Payton. Young brought life to college basketball with his electrifying play. He drives, passes and shoots like Steph Curry, but does turn the ball over too much. He also has struggled on defense, but the offense should make up for it.

7. Chicago Bulls- Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

Sexton is one of the best point guards in the class and is able to drive and distribute the ball well. This ability would fill in well with Lauri Markkanen for the future of the franchise.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers- Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke

Carter can play the four and the five and presents a player who can even stretch the floor with his shooting. The Cavs will likely try to select Trae Young or Collin Sexton to get a point guard but may need to trade up to do it.

9. New York Knicks- Mo Bamaba, C, Texas

Bamba will be able to defend the paint, as he averages 5 blocks per 40 minutes. He has been compared to Rudy Gobert, with his good defense, and he’ll have to develop his offensive game. The Knicks can play him next to Kristaps Porzingis in what could be a dangerous frontcourt.

10. Philadelphia 76ers- Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky

Knox has good size and can shoot well. He is inconsistent though, as he can go off in some games and disappear in others. The 76ers can get another freakish player with this pick and Knox will help open up the game for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

11. Charlotte Hornets- Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova 

Bridges will walk in the door as a legitimate “3 and D” prospect but has a chance to develop into much more. He’s got good length but does need to add some more strength. The Hornets need to find pieces to fill in between Dwight Howard and Kemba Walker.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Kentucky

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Photo by 94feetreport.com)

12. Los Angeles Clippers- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

He is a lanky point guard, who has a long wingspan, which helps him play good defense. SGA will need to work on his shooting and add some weight, but the length will get him selected early. The Clippers have Partick Beverly but need a point guard of the future.

13. Los Angeles Clippers- Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Williams displayed what he is capable of in the NCAA Tournament. He has great athleticism for a big but doesn’t have the best motor. The Clippers could use another productive big with the departure of Blake Griffin.

14. Denver Nuggets- Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Bridges is an athletic wing who already has an NBA body. He can shoot and drive and could fit in nice with the Nuggets’ young core.

15. Washington Wizards- Lonnie Walker IV, PG/SG, Miami

Walker doesn’t fill the biggest need for the Wizards, but he is a good value here. He didn’t produce a lot in his freshman year at Miami, but shows flashes of potential, making him worthy of consideration here.

16. Phoenix Suns- Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, USA

Simons has created some buzz after deciding to declare for the NBA Draft out of prep school. He can shoot and get to the basket well. The Suns will need a better point guard than Payton for the future.

17. Milwaukee Bucks- Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Robinson sat out this year to prepare for the draft after initially signing with Western Kentucky. Milwaukee could use a young developmental big.

18. San Antonio Spurs- Khyri Thomas, PG, Creighton 

The Spurs need a point guard to take over and lead the team. Thomas can get his own shots but needs to learn how to set his teammates up better.

Zhaire smith dunk

Zhaire Smith (Photo by blazersedge.com)

19. Atlanta Hawks- Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

In the NCAA Tournament, Smith electrified the crowd with his dunks, but he can also hit the three-point shot at a high percentage of 45%.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves- Gary Trent, SG, Duke

The Timberwolves need to spread the floor more and find some good shooters. Trent is a knockdown shooter who needs to improve his defense to see the floor in Minnesota.

21. Utah Jazz- Dzanan Musa, SG/SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Jazz have some young pieces but could use another wing player. They can also afford to have a draft and stash if Musa fits that bill.

22. Chicago Bulls- Jontay Porter, PF/C, Missouri

Porter doesn’t get as much publicity as his brother but had a solid season at Missouri. They got a guard with their first pick and can now get some depth for the frontcourt.

23. Indiana Pacers- Troy Brown, PG/SG, Oregon

Brown is a tall, athletic guard, but doesn’t shoot well from three-point range. He needs some development but could be a good player next to Victor Oladipo.

24. Portland Trail Blazers- Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV

The Trail Blazers don’t have a lot of size and can get McCoy and help him develop.

Jacob Evans NBA

Jacob Evans (Photo by downthedrive.com)

25. Los Angeles Lakers- Jacob Evans, G, Cincinnati

Evans is a “3 and D” player, who could find his way as a solid role player in the NBA.

26. Philadelphia 76ers- Donte DiVincenzo, G, Villanova

DiVincenzo can stay in Philly to help the 76ers spread the floor even more.

27. Boston Celtics- Trevon Duval, PG, Duke

The Celtics have good point guard play, but who knows how much longer they can keep Terry Rozier in a bench role behind Kyrie Irving after his performance in the playoffs. Marcus Smart will also likely not be retained.

28. Golden State Warriors- Tony Carr, PG, Penn State

Carr broke through this season and now has a chance to be drafted in the first round. He is a big guard, who can shoot and take over for Shaun Livingston.

29. Brooklyn Nets- Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Hutchison was a star at Boise State who did a little bit of everything for the Broncos. With the right coaching, he can turn into a solid NBA player.

30. Atlanta Hawks- Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova

Brunson won multiple Player of the Year awards. He is fundamentally sound and uses that to his advantage.

 

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2018 NBA mock draft April 6

The college basketball season is now over and prospects are looking forward to the draft. Here is the 2018 NBA mock draft April 6.

2018 NBA mock draft April 6

DeAndre Ayton (Photo by uproxx.com)

1. Phoenix Suns- DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

Ayton has said it would be cool to play with Devin Booker and how good of a one-two punch it would be. The Suns have a nice crop of young wing players in Devin Booker, T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson, but they lack an inside presence. Ayton would give them that presence and then some. Ayton is a well-built and athletic big. He is a great rebounder, who often comes up with the ball with plenty of players around him.

2. Memphis Grizzlies- Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke

The 6’11” big man is athletic and can do everything on a basketball court, which includes shooting from deep at 39.7%. While there have been some strains in the relationship between Marc Gasol and the organization, he should be on the team next season making Bagley fit in nicely next to him on the floor.

3. Atlanta Hawks- Mo Bamba, C, Texas

Dennis Schroeder is the best thing the Hawks have going for them and they need to find players on the interior to help him out. Bamba will be able to defend the paint, as he averages 5 blocks per 40 minutes. He has been compared to Rudy Gobert, with his good defense, and he’ll have to develop his offensive game.

4. Orlando Magic- Luka Doncic, G, Spain

Doncic has the size of a wing player in the NBA but actually plays on-ball a lot for Real Madrid. He stands 6’6″ and is an excellent passer and playmaker. His three-point shooting has gone down over the last few years, so Doncic will have to work on that. The Magic need good guard play and have a void after trading Elfrid Payton.

5. Dallas Mavericks- Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri

The Mavs have guards and wings and now need some bigger players for the future. Dirk Nowitzki is the only really productive big on the roster and will be gone in a few years. Porter can play the three or the four for the Mavs. He came back from his back injury and was rusty, but showed flashes of why he was rated so highly coming out of high school.

6. Sacramento Kings- Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State

Zach Randolph is the leading scorer on the Kings and is playing out his last few NBA years. By selecting Jackson, the Kings could replace Randolph and add another young player with potential to the starting lineup. Jackson has been a monster on the inside for Michigan State this season. Per 40 minutes, he is averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds per game. He also is a good rim protector.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers- Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

Well, LeBron James has already talked about how good Trae Young is. The Cavs just got George Hill, but he is aging and could help develop Young. They can also play Young off-ball. Young brought life to college basketball with his electrifying play. He drives, passes and shoots like Steph Curry, but does turn the ball over too much. He also has struggled on defense, but the offense should make up for it.

8. Chicago Bulls- Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova

Bridges will walk in the door as a legitimate “3 and D” prospect but has a chance to develop into much more. He’s got good length but does need to add some more strength. The Bulls have some good guard play and Lauri Markkanen but could use a solid wing defender.

2018 NBA mock draft April 6

Collin Sexton (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

9. New York Knicks- Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

The Knicks selected Frank Nitilikina last year and traded for Emmanuel Mudiay, but neither have been great. They’ll need a legitimate point guard if they are ever going to compete. Sexton is one of the best players available, who is able to drive and distribute the ball well.

10. Philadelphia 76ers- Kevin Knox, SF/PF, Kentucky

Knox is still deciding whether he will enter his name into the draft, but if he does, he is a lottery pick. The 76ers don’t have too many needs and can elect to take a player like Knox, who can be a key role player before potentially breaking into stardom.

11. Charlotte Hornets- Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Bridges is an athletic wing who already has an NBA body. He can shoot and drive and could complement the two key pieces the Hornets do have in Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard.

12. Los Angeles Clippers- Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke

Will DeAndre Jordan be with the Clippers much longer? He says he wants to be there, but they are rebuilding. Carter would present good value here and could play next to Jordan if the Clippers decide to keep him.

13. Denver Nuggets- Gary Trent Jr., SG, Duke

Denver has some good young players at almost every position and can take the best player available. Trent can provide even more shooting to a team that ranks fifth in the NBA in three-point percentage.

14. Los Angeles Clippers- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

He is a lanky point guard, who has a long wingspan, which helps him play good defense. SGA will need to work on his shooting and add some weight, but the length will get him selected early. The Clippers have Partick Beverly but need a point guard of the future.

15. Phoenix Suns- Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, USA

Simons has created some buzz after deciding to declare for the NBA Draft out of prep school. He can shoot and get to the basket well. The Suns will need a better point guard than Payton for the future.

16. Phoenix Suns- Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

He hasn’t produced a lot in his freshman year at Miami, but shows flashes of potential, making him worthy of consideration here. The Suns can fill a few different needs with their first-round picks.

17. Washington Wizards- Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Williams displayed what he is capable of in the NCAA Tournament. He has great athleticism for a big but doesn’t have the best motor. The Wizards need an inside player for John Wall and Bradley Beal to play off of.

2018 NBA mock draft April 6

Zhaire Smith (Photo by aol.com)

18. Atlanta Hawks- Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

In the NCAA Tournament, Smith electrified the crowd with his dunks, but he can also hit the three-point shot at a high percentage of 45%.

19. Utah Jazz- Dzanan Musa, SG/SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Jazz have some young pieces but could use another wing player. They can also afford to have a draft and stash if Musa fits that bill.

20.  Chicago Bulls- Jontay Porter, PF/C, Missouri

Porter doesn’t get as much publicity as his brother but had a solid season at Missouri. They got a wing with their first pick and can now get some depth for the frontcourt.

21. San Antonio Spurs- Troy Brown, SG, Oregon

The Spurs will need better guard play with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili winding down their careers. Brown is a tall, athletic guard, but doesn’t shoot well from three-point range.

22. Indiana Pacers- Khyri Thomas, PG/SG, Creighton 

Indiana needs a point guard to add to Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner.

23. Philadelphia 76ers- Mitchell Robinson, C, USA

Robinson sat out this year to prepare for the draft after initially signing with Western Kentucky. The 76ers had depth at center for years when they were “trusting the process”, but now need to find someone behind Joel Embiid.

24. Minnesota Timberwolves- Grayson Allen, SG, Duke

Minnesota is 19th in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage and Allen can help them off the bench in that category.

2018 NBA Mock draft april 6

Caleb Martin (Photo by Nevadaapeal.com)

25. Los Angeles Lakers- Caleb Martin, SG/SF, Nevada

Martin played well at Nevada this season and the Lakers could use more wing players.

26. Portland Trail Blazers- Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV

The Trail Blazers don’t have a lot of size and can get McCoy and help him develop.

27. Boston Celtics- Chimezie Metu, PF/C, USC

Boston should be better next year with all their players healthy, but don’t have many young bigs.

28. Golden State Warriors- Tony Carr, PG, Penn State

Carr broke through this season and now has a chance to be drafted in the first round. He is a big guard, who can shoot and take over for Shaun Livingston.

29. Brooklyn Nets- Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

The Nets need to acquire more talent but are stuck with the second to last pick in the first round. Wagner presents good value and could help fill their need of an interior player.

30. Atlanta Hawks- Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova

Brunson won multiple Player of the Year awards. He is fundamentally sound and uses that to his advantage.

 

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2018 ACC Tournament preview

The ACC Tournament has so many teams that are fighting for different things, whether that’s a number one seed or just a spot in the tournament. As always, it will be competitive and fun. Here is a preview of what will take place in Brooklyn this week.

Overview

Virginia won the ACC this season by four games this season, a feat that not many saw coming. They only have two losses on the season, to Virginia Tech and West Virginia. If they win this tournament, they will get the number one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Behind them Duke will be looking for a number one seed as well. Five of their six losses came in conference, but their defense has gotten better in recent weeks. They have also gotten healthier, as Marvin Bagley III has returned from his sprained knee.

North Carolina has a slight shot at a number one seed, but is likely looking at a two or three seed this season. With one of the best point guards in the country, Joel Berry, and a good inside-out player in Luke Maye, the Tar Heels can make a run and win this tournament.

Clemson, Miami, N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Florida State are all likely in the NCAA Tournamnet, barring disaster scenarios. Louisville, Notre Dame and Syracuse are both on the bubble and need to do some damage in the ACC Tournament to secure a spot in the big dance. Boston College, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Pittsburgh finished at the bottom of the conference and are playing for pride unless they can make a run to win the whole ACC Tournament to get an automatic bid.

All-Tournament Team and MVP

The All-Tournament team is very dependent on who goes deep in a tournament. Who will be the best players in the ACC Tournament?

Joel Berry, G, UNC

Kyle Guy, G, Virginia

Gary Trent Jr., G, Duke

Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke

Omer Yurtseven, F, N.C. State

MVP: Kyle Guy

Darkhorse: N.C. State Wolfpack

2018 ACC Tournament preview

Coach Kevin Keatts (Photo by sportingnews.com)

N.C. State will play Boston College, after the Eagles beat Georgia Tech in the first round. That shouldn’t be too tough of a game, as the Wolfpack already beat them this season, 82-66. After that they get Clemson, who is without one of their best players, Donte Grantham, who is injured. They split the season series with Clemson, but they had Grantham in both of those games. The Tigers have lost four of their last six games of the season and are clearly reeling without Grantham.

Picking up those two wins would give them some momentum. If the bracket holds to form, they would have to play Virginia and then Duke to win it all. While Virginia did beat the Wolfpack easily, N.C. State was able to beat Duke. That tournament run would be tough, but they should be able to get out of their first two games without too many problems.

Coach Kevin Keatts has done a fantastic job of putting a good team on the floor and getting the most out of them in his first year. They’ve got a good combination of inside players and guards. Omer Yutseven is a legitimate NBA prospect at center, who is tough to match up with. Lennard Freeman and Abdul-Malik Abu are good role players at forward, who have experience.

Markell Johnson runs the point well with 7.4 assists per game. Allerik Freeman, Torin Dorn and Braxton Beverley all give a good scoring punch to this team from the guard position, averaging over 10 points per game each. With so many different scoring options, the Wolfpack will be hard to stop this week.

Champion: Virginia Cavaliers

2018 ACC Tournament preview

Kyle Guy (Photo by accsports.com)

Virginia will have to play Louisville or Florida State in their first game, then likely have to go through N.C. State/Clemson and Duke to win the tournament. With just two losses on the season, they have beaten all of these teams. Florida State and Louisville created good games against the Cavaliers, but couldn’t come up with key plays at the end, giving Virginia victories. They are 3-0 against teams they’d meet in their first game.

For their likely second opponent of the tournament, they beat both N.C. State and Clemson without any problems. They held Clemson to 36 points, when Clemson still had Grantham. If they make the championship against Duke, they were able to beat them at Cameron Indoor Stadium, 65-63.

They are clearly the class of the ACC, with only one loss in conference. Their defense is what sets them apart, as they allow just 52.8 points per game. That would be hard to do in any conference, but they managed to do that in one of the toughest, if not the toughest, conferences in the country. The Cavaliers hold opponents to just 37.5% from the field and play the game at their pace.

Virginia’s best player is Kyle Guy, who averages just 13.9 points per game, but that’s because they run good offensive sets and milk the shot clock. He scores 17.5 points per game, which is probably what he would score if Virginia played at most teams’ paces. Devon Hall and Ty Jerome are also both solid guards who average over 10 points per game and defend well.

Outside of the three scorers, the Cavaliers have role players that don’t care about numbers and just focus on doing their jobs to secure victories. De’Andre Hunter, Isaiah Wilkins, Jack Salt, Mamadi Diakite and Nigel Johnson all fill significant roles and are capable of stepping up their games when called upon.

Tony Bennett will have his team ready to play in the ACC Tournament and is hoping that they can make the third Final Four in school history.

 

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Duke Basketball

This Duke team is scary good

I know what you’re going to say. How can you judge a prestigious team like Duke when they play schools like Elon and Utah Valley? Of course they are supposed to blow them out because they are the Duke Blue Devils with one of the best coaches in the history of the sport and a top recruiting class year after year.

However, with just two games under their belt, this team looks poised for a National Championship.

How are these Blue Devils different from last year’s team?

Although Duke became the first ACC team to win four games in four days on their way to winning the ACC Tournament, the season was a disappointment, as they fell to South Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Duke basketball

As talented as the 2016-17 Duke team was, the season was a disappointment (Photo from News and Observer)

Going into the year, according to ESPN.com, Duke had the No. 2 recruiting class, highlighted by players like Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and Frank Jackson, who were all drafted in this past NBA Draft. They also returned Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson.

Despite these big names, injuries and lack of consistency haunted this Duke team throughout the season. Allen was constantly in the headlines for tripping people, and Harry Giles was never able to be a real factor.

Fast forward to this season and in walks a fresh new breed of elite talent. Because of the one-and-done era, the best players attend a school for one season before departing to the NBA. If you watched the first two games, make sure to not fall in love with some of the players because a few of their names will be called in next year’s NBA Draft.

 

Big Men on Campus

According to ESPN’s Top 100, a list that complies the top 100 incoming freshmen for this season, Duke owns the first, fifth, sixth and eighth ranked players. The No. 1 ranked player, Marvin Bagley III, is a 6-foot-11, athletic freak. Bagley, who is originally from Phoenix, reclassified this August so that he could graduate high school and attend Duke this fall.

Duke basketball

The possible first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Marvin Bagley III (Zagsblog)

This past season for Sierra Canyon High School, Bagley averaged 24.9 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. This kid can do it all, and NBA stars like Chris Paul, Paul Pierce, and Lamar Odom had a front-row seat to his dominance, as they all attended Sierra Canyon games while Bagley was playing.

Over the summer, Bagley spent time in the Drew League, competing against players like DeMar DeRozan, JaVale McGee, Julius Randle and Baron Davis. In a game against a team led by DeRozan, Bagley erupted for 32 points and 11 boards. He also participated in the league’s All-Star game, knocking down 18 points and corralled 20 rebounds.

In his first two collegiate games, Bagley has been nothing short of impressive. His 49 points are tied with Jabari Parker for most points by a freshman over the first two games of their Duke career. He is also averaging 10 rebounds a game. Bagley has a real shot to be the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Another big man, Wendell Carter Jr., the fifth ranked player in his recruiting class, is projected to be a top-10 pick in the draft. Because of Bagley, Carter’s talent may be swept under the rug in the public eye, but Duke knows the 6-foot-10, 260 pound freshman is a stud. Carter is a mobile big man, who can score with both hands in traffic and has no problem going hard to draw fouls. He is an exceptional rebounder, as he has tallied up 13 boards in his two games.

Exceptional Guard Play

The other two big names in this recruiting class, Gary Trent Jr. and Trevon Duval, have both found immediate success at the collegiate level. Trent Jr. is the son of former NBA player, Gary Trent. He appears to be lights out from deep, as he has started the season 7-for-13 from three. Through two games, Trent Jr. is averaging 17 points per game.

Duke basketball

Tricky Tre! (Photo from KSL.com)

The reason for Duke’s struggles last season was mostly due to the fact that they were without a true ball handler. If you think back to their past two championships, both teams had a dominant ball handler. They had Nolan Smith in 2010 and Tyus Jones in 2015. Insert “Tricky” Trevon Duval.

Duval, a super athletic point guard, has exceptional handles and is as quick as they come. “Tricky” looks like a a combination of John Wall and Russell Westbrook, as he flies around the floor and has already shown his freakish athleticism. Duval does not shy away from contact, and defends well. His 20 assists in his first two games is the new Duke freshman record, eclipsing Chris Duhon’s 12 from the 2001 season. Duval has also only turned the ball over just one time.

The four freshman scored 58 of Duke’s 97 points against Elon. In their last matchup against Utah Valley, Duke’s first 40 points were scored by freshmen, as well as every single point during their 27-8 run in the middle of the first half.

 

What about the rest?

Somehow, we have managed to go this far into an article without mentioning the great Grayson Allen. Allen, who had somewhat of a down season last year, is determined to put up big numbers in his senior year. In the home opener, Allen lit it up, scoring 22 points, including 6-for-9 from deep. He kept the momentum going against Utah Valley, scoring 18 on 7-for-11 shooting.

In 2009-10, seniors Jon Scheyer, Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas all played crucial parts in the championship run. In 2014-15, we saw Quinn Cook show exceptional leadership, as he kept the team focused on their way to the title. Allen, who played a pivotal part in the 2015 National Championship, is ready to lead this young group of stars.

This team reminds me a lot of the 2014-15 team. That team, led by the three exceptional freshmen, Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones, was a young, talented team like this year’s squad. Based off the first two games, this Duke freshman class could be the best we have ever seen.

Players like Javin DeLaurier, Alex O’Connell, Marques Bolden and Jordan Goldwire will all play vital roles in helping this team accomplish their goals.

Tonight, Duke will square off against No. 2 Michigan State in Chicago in the Champions Classic.

 

Featured image by Naples Herald

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“From our Haus to Yours”

Why Duke is the Best College Basketball Program

To no surprise, the Duke Blue Devils’ head into the 2017-18 season as one of the top ranked teams. You would think losing four players, three in the first round, to this year’s NBA draft would have hurt them. Instead, the Blue Devils brought in three of the top seven players among the Top 100 prospect list, as well as kept Grayson Allen for his senior year.

Barring injury, it looks like another National Championship banner could be headed to Durham. With all of Duke’s recent success, it got us thinking… do the Blue Devils have the best program in the NCAA?

Just going by the numbers, it is clear that no team in the modern era is even close to accomplishing what Duke has done, on and off the court.

To start off, let’s take a look at the five-time champions basketball résumé.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI & DUKE’S WINNING TRADITIONS

Before everyone freaks out about Duke being named a better program than UCLA, who won 10 titles from 1964 to 1975, let’s take a look back at the rules and regulations of that era. In nine of their 10 titles, UCLA only had to win four games during the NCAA Tournament. One thing that should also be noted, freshman weren’t even allowed to play varsity basketball until the 1972-73 season. In this past NBA draft, nine of the first ten selections were freshman. Imagine playing in a time in which some of the best players could not even step on the court? Players could not dunk the ball from 1968-1976. Not to mention the three-point shot wasn’t even introduced until 1986.

Let me say that one more time.

The three-point shot was not apart of the NCAA until 1986, thus proving that the game was much different, and not comparable to the one we see today.

Now that it’s clear the game really became official in 1986, let’s see how Duke compares to other major programs.

 

SCHOOL # OF CHAMPIONSHIPS SINCE 1986
DUKE 5
UNC 4
UCONN 4
KENTUCKY 3
SCHOOL # OF NCAA TOURNAMENT WINS SINCE 1986
DUKE 90
UNC 85
KANSAS 79
KENTUCKY 76
CONNECTICUT 55
ARIZONA 54
MICHIGAN STATE 54

ADDITIONAL FACTS

  • Duke has had 11 National Player of the Years
  • Duke has made the National Championship 11 total times
  • Duke has made 16 Final Fours
  • Duke has made 20 Elite Eights
  • Duke has made 29 Sweet Sixteens
  • Duke has had 71 McDonalds All-Americans (Most in NCAA)
  • Duke has the Most Consecutive APR Awards (Most in NCAA)

Next Level

  • Duke has had 23 Lottery Picks (MOST in NCAA)
  • Duke has had 32 First Round Picks (MOST in NCAA)
  • Duke has had 10 Top Three Picks since 1992 (MOST in NCAA)
  • Duke has had Multiple 1st Round Picks in five out of the last seven years

So how does one school stay on top, year after year? The answer: Krzyzewski.

The winningest coach in NCAA men’s basketball history, Mike Krzyzewski is clearly the most important piece to this storied university. His ability to lead, coach, and teach his players has made Duke a hot destination for upcoming freshman, year after year.

PAST FRESHMAN CLASSES

YEAR PLAYER(S) in Top 30 of ESPN Top 100
2017 Wendell Carter (#4), Trevon Duval (#5), Gary Trent Jr (#7)
2016 Harry Giles (#1), Jayson Tatum (#3), Frank Jackson (#10), Marques Bolden (#16)
2015 Brandon Ingram (#3), Chase Jeter (#11), Derryck Thornton (#17), Luke Kennard (#24)
2014 Jahlil Okafor (#1), Tyus Jones (#4), Justise Winslow (#15), Grayson Allen (#21)

What makes coach K so special? He tries not to focus too much on the x’s and o’s. Krzyzewski builds relationships with all of his players. He constantly asks them about their goals, both on the floor and off. Coach K focuses on the “we” concept, which is vital in creating a championship team. When recruiting, he doesn’t just look at talent. In an interview with Entrepreneur.com, coach explained how “academic ability and character” are two major evaluation areas for all incoming recruits.

Photo Courtesy of (nytimes.com)

When a relationship is established, it is very easy to gain trust. “Without trust, you have nothing” says Krzyzewski in an interview with Championship Coaches Network. His .755 winning percentage in March can be credited to the type of environment he creates for his team. In that same interview, when asked about culture and how he deals with players failing, Coach K exclaims how it is essential to “create an environment where people can make mistakes without worrying about it too much.” He would go on to say that, in order to successfully lead a program, one must “empower your assistants and the leadership on your team (like the captains) to speak and express themselves.” Coach K trusts his players and gives them confidence, which creates his winning culture.

Another significant advantage is the fact that Krzyzewski has been the head coach of the USA men’s basketball team since 2005. In that span, he has gone on to win Olympic Gold medals in each of the past three Olympics (2008, 2012, 2016). As a high school kid, whose dream is reaching the NBA, there is no better coach to play under than the guy who has spent countless summers with the best players in the world. Not only does Coach K offer great leadership and mentoring to the pros, but he is also able to pick up on how they train, and what they do to be successful. This information is then transferred over to his boys, which is a clear advantage for the talented young men.

Off the court, Krzyzewski remains nothing short of spectacular. Each semester, he keeps copies of everyone’s syllabi, and is alerted each week on how the team is doing. He constantly checks in with his players and asks them about upcoming papers and tests, making sure they feel just as confident in the classroom, as they do on the court.

This type of leadership has done wonders for the boys in the classroom. For instance, it is nearly impossible to find a year in which multiple Duke basketball players did not make the All-ACC Academic Team. In order to qualify for this team,  “a student-athlete must have earned a 3.00 grade point average for the previous semester and maintained a 3.00 cumulative average during his academic career” (theacc.com).

In the Classroom

As we know, academics is a huge part of the university itself. Duke University holds a 9% acceptance rate, one of the top 10 schools with the lowest acceptance rates.

What does that mean?

It means that one of Coach K’s roles is to ensure that his players can obtain the education at the university with no problems. By the looks of it, he has established great success regarding his players and their transcripts.

The last two years, the Blue Devils basketball team has posted a total of seven NCAA Academic ACC All Americans: Grayson Allen (2), Chase Jeter, Justise Winslow, Tyus Jones, Amile Jefferson (2) and Marshall Plumlee. The highest amount among any ACC team. Not to mention that Grayson 

Duke Basketball Grads IG: (@dukembb)

Allen was named an NCAA Academic All American. 2016 marked Duke’s 22nd consecutive year with at-least one player on the ACC all-academic team. To add, Duke holds a historical list of 91 total players on the ACC All Academic team. UNC stands in second place with only 57 players. 

With that being said, Duke produces talent on the basketball court, and definitely in the classroom.  Unfortunately, there are a plethora of other NCAA men’s basketball programs in which players are openly admitting to their tutors writing their papers, as well as constantly skipping out on classes. For example, in an interview with ESPN, Rashad McCants from UNC’s 2004-05 National Title team, he publicly announced his academic secrets by saying “he rarely went to class…and took bogus classes designed to keep athletes academically eligible” showing that his time was centrally focused on basketball. Or how about when Derrick Rose never took the SAT, instead having a friend take the test under Rose’s name. Rose went on to play at the University of Memphis, where John Calipari was coaching at the time. Now coaching at Kentucky, who knows what Calipari is allowing in his classrooms.

Let’s close the books and head back to the court. Cameron Indoor Stadium, home of the Duke Blue Devils, and the biggest homecourt advantage in all of college hoops. What gives Duke such an advantage? The Cameron Crazies. 

“The Cameron Crazies”

Cameron Indoor Stadium: the wildest stadium among any NCAA basketball stadiums, and home to “The Cameron Crazies”. It’s safe to say, the Cameron Crazies affect each and every home-game. Their ability to remain standing the entire game with the same antics play-by-play gives Duke the full advantage.

“The rowdiest…best-organized college basketball fans in the land” Says ESPN.

Photo Courtesy of (syracuse.com)

A major leap from other college basketball programs is Krzyzewskiville, also known as “K-Ville”. For those unaware of this, “K-Ville” is one of the homes to the Cameron Crazies besides the stadium itself. It stands as a spot designated for the “Crazies” to camp out before games. Yes, camp out. They set up tents, move their dorm furniture in, and live there until game-time. Something unlike any college basketball fan-base. The “K-Ville” is the rowdiest during the UNC rival game. Students camp out for days, waiting for the tip-off of the biggest college rivalry matchup.

During the last eight seasons, the Duke basketball team has lost only eight total games at home. Can you guess how many they have won?

125 games.

Yes, this team holds a 125-8 record at home, during the last eight seasons. Four of the last eight seasons, the Blue Devils recorded undefeated home records.

Its obvious that this team exceeds at their home stadium. I mean, who wouldn’t with a fan-base like the “Cameron Crazies”? They have been known for their antics to rattle the opposite-team. In the past, they have thrown Twinkies at players who were considered overweight. They have also said “you’ll work for us one-day”, exhibiting the academic levels at Duke compared to other schools.

Senior Grayson Allen calls them “The Best Fans in the World”. 

It’s no surprise that Duke will have yet another successful season. The history shows what this program is capable of doing.

This piece was a collaboration by Shane Leary and Jeremy Bhandari. You can Like The Game Haus on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for more esports and sports coverage.