It is no surprise that Duke was able to land five-star power forward, and top overall player, Harry Giles. Going back almost a year the Blue Devils have been considered the strong favorite for Giles. In the end they had to hold off a strong push from Kentucky, but they got it done, and now once again have the top ranked recruiting class in the country.
Now Duke has Giles along with five-star prospects Frank Jackson and Jayson Tatum as well as four-star forward Javin DeLaurier in this class. Those four give Duke one heck of a group of newcomers for next year, and the biggest thing is a ton of versatility at all positions.
Giles is obviously the gem of the class as the nation’s top prospect, and what makes him special is there is no doubt he can be elite at both power forward and center. Then you have Tatum who can see time at shooting guard, small forward, and power forward. Jackson is equally as gifted at point guard and shooting guard, and then DeLaurier can do a little bit of everything as well.
With all four prospects having so much versatility, Duke is going to have the luxury of throwing out a lot of different roster combinations that can match up to and overwhelm opponents who play any system. Quite honestly Duke’s opposition won’t be able to go small to expose bigs on the perimeter or go big to expose smaller Duke frontcourt players, the Blue Devils will be able to match everything.
Given that Brandon Ingram is very likely one and done, and theoretically there is a chance Grayson Allen plays his way into the lottery and leaves, it is possible Duke could four players off of this year’s roster.
Even without Ingram and Allen next year, Duke would be able to mix and match with a pure point guard in Derryck Thornton along with Jackson, Luke Kennard, sharp shooting Matt Jones, and Tatum on the perimeter.
Against a team with bigger wings Kennard and Tatum might see more time, against a team who runs more of a three guard attack it is possible Thornton, Jackson, and Jones see more time. Also it allows Duke to ride the hot hand of who is shooting well at the time and give them more minutes while not being in unfavorable matchups on the defensive end.
This is even more apparent in the frontcourt. Giles has proven during FIBA play that he is more than capable of defending centers, and he should be able to do that if a team goes a little smaller. If a team goes bigger, sophomore Chase Jeter can be a shot blocking presence next to Giles.
When teams go to almost a four guard lineup, Duke could even go with Tatum at the four and Giles or DeLaurier at the five. This would allow Duke to defend with bigs the way they want in ball screens and also be at an advantage rebounding since Giles and DeLaurier are so gifted in that area.
Mike Krzyzewski has seen positionless basketball up close and personal at the highest level in the Olympics, and he clearly has built his current roster and future rosters to have the versatility needed to defend any personnel grouping and any style of play.