By David Aldridge of Dukereport.com
Duke basketball fans will have to look forward to lots of new faces for the 2018-19 season.
After losing the entire starting lineup from last season’s squad, Duke’s top returning scorer is Marques Bolden, who averaged 3.9 points per game.
With all the roster turnover, the Blue Devils will rely heavily on their incoming top ranked recruiting class that’s loaded with talent. It will be crucial for the freshmen to gel quickly and embrace their roles as they adjust to college basketball.
Here is who you can expect to see in the starting lineup when Duke begins the 2018-19 season.
Point Guard: Tre Jones
Freshman, 6’2”, 183 lbs.
Tre Jones will look to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Tyus, who was one of the most clutch players in Duke history and helped lead the team to the 2015 national championship. Jones arrives as the No. 3 point guard in the class of 2018 and is more known as a defender than his brother was, which could be a welcome addition for a Duke team that has occasionally struggled with consistent perimeter defense over the past few years.
Wing: Cam Reddish
Freshman, 6’8”, 218 lbs.
It doesn’t make sense to label Cam Reddish as a guard or forward, because it’s relatively interchangeable for the wing position. With a 6’8” frame and 7’1” wingspan, his physical traits and versatility already have NBA scouts salivating, and Reddish projects to be a Top 5 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. He’s also known as an elite playmaker and efficient scorer, meaning he has all the tools to be a star in his one season as a Blue Devil.
Wing: R.J. Barrett
Freshman, 6’7”, 202 lbs.
R.J. Barrett is the third consecutive No. 1 recruit to play at Duke, joining Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles over the past three seasons. Barrett has excelled at every level, including dominating in high school at Montverde, on the Nike EYBL circuit, and in the Canadian National Program. This summer, he even earned a spot on the senior Canadian National Team alongside many NBA players. Barrett is a dynamic playmaker who attacks the basket and has a strong mid-range game. He’ll also be able to take the pressure off Tre Jones and assume some of the point guard responsibilities.
Power Forward: Zion Williamson
Freshman, 6’7”, 285 lbs.
I have a hard time believing Zion Williamson weighs 285 pounds based on the clips I’ve seen on social media of the team in summer workouts because he looks lighter, but it’s what is listed on the official team website, so we’re going with it. Regardless, Williamson is built like a truck and should be one of the most explosive players in college basketball this season with the ferocious manner in which he attacks the rim. He also has a reputation for being a relentless rebounder, which will be critical in replacing last year’s production from Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter.
Center: Marques Bolden
Junior, 6’11”, 250 lbs.
Here’s to hoping Marques Bolden can stay healthy and mentally engaged because Duke absolutely needs him this season. As one of the few players on the roster with any meaningful experience, Bolden must step up and provide consistency for such a young team. He struggled during his first two seasons on both ends of the floor, but we’ve seen glimpses of what made him a top ranked recruit coming out of high school in 2016 with his ability to protect the rim on defense and operate in the paint on offense. Hopefully we see more of that this year.
Sophomore, 6’6”, 176 lbs.
A lack of perimeter shooting could be a weakness for this year’s team and that’s an area where Alex O’Connell can carve out a role. He shot 49% from 3-point range last season on 45 attempts, a large enough amount to provide a solid sample size. With the amount of playmakers on this team who can attack off the dribble, O’Connell could be a great weapon to provide spacing and instant offense off the bench.
Junior, 6’10”, 234 lbs.
Javin DeLaurier brings great effort and intensity, but he’s struggled with harnessing that energy and staying out of foul trouble. As a junior, it’s time for DeLaurier to show he’s matured and can stay on the court long enough to contribute. At his best, DeLaurier is a high energy player who can be a strong defender, rim protector, and excellent rebounder.
If you think Coach K is going more than 7-or-8 deep, you haven’t been paying attention.
What are your thoughts on Duke’s likely starting lineup for the 2018-19 season? Let us know on Twitter at @DukeReport!