I had the opportunity to email Ed Isaacson (@nbadraftblog) of NBADraftBlog.com. With...
Development of Our Bench
“The development of our starters is much more important on the development of our depth,” Coach K said after Duke’s win over Wake Forest.”
To hear a head coach say that, makes me question that coach, even when it is Coach K.
The full quote is:
“The development of our starters is much more important on the development of our depth,” he said. “Those three kids, Amile, Alex and Marshall are really good players. They are playing behind three seniors. It’s a different dynamic. There’s more separation than normal. And that’s good, that’s why we’re 14-0. That’s why we’ve won. You have to develop your depth and those young guys in a little different way with this team.”
I understand the reason Duke is 14-0 is because the starters have played really well and Tyler Thornton has stepped up his game, especially on the offensive end. I understand you need to help Quinn Cook’s development as a PG and help Rasheed Sulaimon continue to do a little bit of everything even when his shot is not falling. I even understand helping Mason develop as the go-to-guy down low. However, you’ve had over 3 years to help him with that as well as develop Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry (technically 2 seasons, 3 years if you count him sitting out after transferring from Liberty).
Our starters, while they will not play every minute of every game, play a majority of the minutes. When one gets in foul trouble, or hurt (as we saw with Kelly last year), we are relying upon someone off the bench to step into their place. Not necessarily replace them, but be productive in those minutes. That cost us last year with Kelly. Josh Hairston, was not, and unfortunately, has not to me developed at all. I still see him doing the same things now as a junior as he was doing as a freshmen. Some of that is on him to work harder to improve on his own, and honestly some of is the talent isn’t there like we hoped. Hairston is prone to fouls trouble and personally do not feel as if he can’t be counted on as a reliable backup. I hate to say that about a Duke player, but it’s true.
We all heard this year Duke would have those big athletic wing players they have sorely missed. However, for one reason or another, we have not seen much of Amile Jefferson or Alex Murphy. I feel that their development is necessary to come tournament time and in the event of an injury. I don’t expect them to step right in and become stars, however, if they are given consistent minutes, then they can develop to the point that Duke wouldn’t really miss a beat when one of them come in. As of now, they come in and I think try to do too much in the few minutes they are given. Marshall Plumlee, who has been hurt, has not seen much time either. I feel that he is going to be crucial should Mason get in foul trouble.
I know as the season goes along every team shortens their bench. They usually settle on 7-8 man rotation. I think Duke is going to need up to a 9 man rotation. I think the first ones off the bench should be Thorton, Marshall, Alex or Amile. I could see Amile or Alex making it an 8 man rotation depending on match-ups. But as we are right now, the only ones seeing significant minutes are Thorton and Hairston. I think Marshall will eventually see more minutes as well.
Hopefully as the season continues to progress to the tournament, we will see more of Amile and Alex. If Duke wants to win it’s 5th National Championship, I think their development will be key to making that happen.