Monday, January 28, 2008

Current Duke compared to past Duke

Last night while watching the Duke-Maryland game I couldn't help but think to myself that the current group of Duke players remind me of former Duke players. Here are the comparisons:

  • DeMarcus Nelson - Chris Carawell:

  • Carawell was an ACC player of the year who was a tough, physical player. He could shoot the ball well from beyond the arc, rebound well, and he improved year after year. Nelson has all of those qualities and has definitely shown a ton of improvement this year. He doesn't stand a chance of being named ACC player of the year (because Psycho T has it already has that locked up), but he is the leader of the team in a way that reminds me of Carawell in 2000. Both players are what scouts would call "tweeners" in the fact that they lack the height and/or speed to project out to the Nba.
  • Kyle Singler - Mike Dunleavy:
  • It was difficult for me to come up with a comparison for Singler, but now thinking about it is almost too easy. Both Singler and Dunleavy are tall forwards from Oregon who are more comfortable on the perimeter than in the paint.
  • Jon Scheyer - Chris Collins
  • While most people would want to compare Scheyer to JJ Redick it is not the best comparison. Redick was a star as a freshmen for Duke and went on to be one of the best players in ACC history. Scheyer is a good player, but not in Redick's tier. As for Collins comparison, both Collins and Scheyer are undersized (Collins is 6'3" and Scheyer is 6'3"), streaky shooters, who need good players around them to be successful. Collins was a career 38.8% three point shooter and so far in his career Scheyer is a 37.7% three point shooter. Both are very intelligent players who routinely made/make the correct read.
  • Gerald Henderson - Ricky Price mixed with Grant Hill
  • I know this is kind of like writing a "Kia mixed with a Lexus", but let me try to justify my selections. All three players listed are the type of athletes that are tall, strong, fast, and not to be cliche can jump out of the gym. The sophomore year numbers for Henderson aren't too dissimilar to Price's sophomore year numbers. The points per game and assists per game are very similar. After his sophomore year though Price was a disaster. Because of Henderson's abilities and lineage, I can't imagine the same situation. The closer the comparison gets to Grant Hill and the farther away from Ricky Price, will ultimately determine how Henderson's career is remembered.
  • Nolan Smith - William Avery:
  • After watching the Maryland game it is getting tough for me to reign in the optimism I have for Nolan Smith. If you guard him too close he will blow by you for a lay-up. If you don't guard him close enough he will knock down the outside shot. He is a 48% field goal shooter, who also shoots 80% from the line. With time I can see his 28% 3pt percentage going up since his shooting form looks above-average. Those freshmen year numbers are similar to Avery who shot 43% from the field, 74% from the line, and 30% from the 3 pt line during his freshmen year. Avery really made the leap his sophomore year where his numbers improved to 48%, 81%, and 41% respectively. I could definitely see the same type of leap next year for Smith. Lets just hope if that does happen that he doesn't turn pro like Avery did. My advice (which is worth next to nothing) is for Smith to stay in school and work on having a career like Daniel Ewing.
  • Taylor King - a rich man's Lee Melchionni:

  • Taylor King is a cocky shooter, whose goal in life seems to be to shoot as many 3 pointers as possible. I have compared him in the past to Kyle Korver and I still think that comparison is the best. Still if I had to pick a former Duke player I would pick the senior version of Lee Melchionni. Melchionni was an emotional left handed shooter (like King) who became a key player his senior year at Duke. He averaged 7.7 ppg, made 3 pointers at a 40% rate, and the majority of his shots (73%) were 3 pointers. King is averaging 8.6 ppg, makes 3 pointers at a 43.5% rate, and the majority of his shots (75%) have been 3 pointers. Also, both players average or did average less than 1 assist per game. When they are in the game they are supposed to take advantage of their strength and shoot the ball. Here is one more stat to show Taylor King's ability to score: If Taylor King played as many minutes (31.4 min/game) as Duke's leading scorer DeMarcus Nelson and scored at the same rate that he currently does then he would average 21.3 ppg or 44% more than Nelson's 14.8 ppg.

  • Greg Paulus - Steve Wojciechowski, but he thinks he is Bobby Hurley

  • I don't know if there has been a more frustrating player in Duke history than Greg Paulus. He could be a good point guard in the mold of his current assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski (career numbers: 5.4ppg, 38% - FG, 36% - 3pt), but unfortunately for him the hype had placed him at a Bobby Hurley level before he even played a game. He is inconsistent (not to sound like Joe Morgan) from play to play, game to game, and even season to season. If you check out his stats you will see a player who averaged the most points his sophomore year, the most assists his freshmen year, and the best assist/turnover ratio this year. The year he had his highest 3 pt % (last year) was also strangely the year he had his worst free throw percentage. His play of late (especially the Maryland game) makes me wonder if I am the only one who thinks the team would be off with Nolan Smith as the starting point guard? Still I have hope that the enigmatic Paulus will eventually live up to the hype.
  • Lance Thomas - Antonio Lang: The FSN announcers from last night's game made this comparison, so I will give them credit. I don't remember much of Antonio Lang's career (I was only 11 when he graduated from college), but I can only hope that Thomas follows the same career path as Lang. Lang averaged 4.3, 6.4, 6.9 ppg before breaking out his senior year by averaging 12.5 ppg. Thomas averaged 4.0 ppg his freshmen year and so far has upped that slightly to 4.3 ppg.
  • Brian Zoubek - Casey Saunders: They are both tall (Zoubek is 7'1" and Saunders is 6'11") and they both play UNC post players surprisingly well. Other than that there isn't much else to write.
  • David McClure - Nick Horvath: This might be a poor comparison, but it is hard to find someone who is like McClure.
  • Overall team - 2000 Duke basketball team: After the mass exodus of stars like Elton Brand, William Avery, Corey Maggette, and Trajan Langdon from the 1999 National runner up team, the 2000 Duke team had much lower expectations (think Florida this year) than normal Duke teams. They were lead by senior leader Chris Carawell, junior star Shane Battier, and a bunch of freshmen like Jason Williams, Mike Duneleavy Jr, and Carlos Boozer. The 2000 Duke team exceeded expectations by finishing 29-5 (15-1 in the ACC), winning the ACC tournament, and finishing the regular season ranked #1 overall. Unfortunately the year ended with the team losing in the Sweet Sixteen. The following year's team was able to win Duke's 3rd national title.
  • The good news is that I could see this year's team finishing with a similar record and it isn't inconceivable to see them win the ACC tournament It is hard however to imagine them taking over the #1 ranking because Memphis and Kansas are playing so well right now, but a #1 seed is a possibility.
  • The bad news is that I could see this Duke team losing in a Sweet Sixteen game to a team with an athletic front line. I am hoping to be proven wrong on this point since this team has been extremely fun to watch and have played better that preseason predictions. This team gives me the feeling that they are one year (and one Elton Brand/Carlos Boozer type post player) away from being special. Lets hope that if this team does suffer a disappointment like a Sweet Sixteen loss, that they are able to come back next year and win the national title like the 2001 Duke team.
Final note: Don't worry about me doing a UNC comparison mainly because I don't want to try and find a player like Tyler Hansbrough in UNC's history.

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