A Quick Look at Duke Basketball Lineup Possibilities

Matthew Hurt
Image Courtesy Of: Mary Helen Wood- THE CHRONICLE

In this article I’ll be going over just a couple of the many intriguing Duke Basketball lineup options for next season. With eleven potential contributors on the roster, there are no shortage of lineup possibilities. Here’s a look at few.

Small Ball: Jeremy Roach, Jordan Goldwire, Wendell Moore, Jalen Johnson, Matthew Hurt

This lineup is one that I find very intriguing, but also see as a big question mark. Hypothetically, playing Jalen Johnson at the four, and Matthew Hurt at the five could give those two the greatest chance to succeed. Hurt struggled defensively last season because he wasn’t quick enough to guard wings, and wasn’t strong enough to guard bigs. An offseason of putting on weight could make his best defensive position at the five.

Furthermore, very few fives are capable of guarding someone with Hurt’s perimeter repertoire (Hurt shot 39.3% from three). Meanwhile, one of the few knocks on Jalen Johnson has been his quickness. If he were to play at three he’d often be forced to guard smaller, quicker wings making him a potential liability defensively. However, putting him at the four should limit his need to guard perimeter players. This would also allow him to dominate opposing forwards offensively. Johnson is a 6’9’’ playmaker that would be a mismatch nightmare for opposing fours.

Sure, Duke would lack a true rim protector that they would have in a lineup involving either Mark Williams or Patrick Tape. They would also be significantly weaker rebounding the ball (neither Hurt, nor Wendell Moore were major contributors on the glass). With that being said, this small ball lineup would have a high offensive ceiling. And, the perimeter defense would be outstanding. Jordan Goldwire (who could be switched out for DJ Steward) was first on the team last season at 2.5 steals per 40 minutes, Wendell Moore flashed impressive defensive versatility. And, incoming freshman Jeremy Roach is known for his defensive instincts. However, this lineup probably won’t see the floor much together. It’s intriguing, but might not perform as well in a real game compared to how it looks on paper.

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Image Courtesy Of: Rob Kinnan- USA TODAY SPORTS
Big Lineup: Jeremy Roach, Wendell Moore, Jalen Johnson, Matthew Hurt, Mark Williams

I believe that this lineup is the one most likely to be the opening day starting five. It would provide a true center to start games with in Mark Williams who averaged 3.5 blocks per 40 minutes at the 2019 EYBL to go along with 7.9 rebounds per game. And, it would be stacked with talent.

This lineup would likely be an excellent defensive lineup. But, the offensive ceiling would not be nearly as high as the small ball lineup. Of the five, only Matthew Hurt is a legitimate three point shooting threat, with Wendell Moore being just a 21.1% three point shooter for Duke last season. Jalen Johnson doesn’t project as much of a shooter at the college level, but Jeremy Roach should at least be capable from behind the arc even if he isn’t a consistent shooter.

With that being said, this lineup would have pretty much everything else. Plenty of versatility, passing ability, and rebounding. There aren’t many lineups as talented as this one in all of college basketball.

Shooting Lineup: Jeremy Roach, DJ Steward, Joey Baker, Jaemyn Brakefield, Matthew Hurt

This is the first time that DJ Steward has come up in a lineup which is shocking considering he is a five star recruit and a likely one and done. That just speaks to the amount of depth and talent on this Duke team. He’s a walking bucket that is an efficient scorer from behind the arc.

This lineup may be one of the worst defensive lineups Duke could put out, but the amount of shooting ability would be spectacular. Matthew Hurt, Joey Baker, and D.J Steward are all potential 40% three point shooters. Jeremy Roach and Jaemyn Brakefield aren’t necessarily elite shooters, but they are certainly capable. Brakefield was a 30% three point shooter at the EYBL, while Jeremy Roach was a 33% three point shooter. Both have improved as shooters since that time as well.

While the potential of this lineup is intriguing offensively, the lack of defensive prowess will likely prevent it from being used often. Joey Baker had the worst defensive efficiency of any Duke player last season at 96.3. Matthew Hurt was only slightly better at 96.1, which was the third worst defensive rating on the team. D.J Steward doesn’t project as a stout defender, and Jaemyn Brakefield is a little bit of an unknown on this end. That leaves Jeremy Roach as the only projected plus defender in this lineup.

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Image Courtesy Of: DUKE ATHLETICS
Experienced Lineup: Jordan Goldwire, Wendell Moore, Joey Baker, Matthew Hurt, Patrick Tape

This lineup may not have the same talent level or explosiveness of other lineups. But, the balance of these five makes for a potentially dynamic lineup. Matthew Hurt and Joey Baker are high level three point shooters.

Meanwhile, Jordan Goldwire, Wendell Moore, and Patrick Tape are all high level defenders. Tape had a block rate of 7% at Columbia which would have been higher than all of Duke’s rotation players last season, his rebounding rate of 15.2% would’ve been second only to Vernon Carey at Duke last season. His rim protection combined with the perimeter defense of Wendell Moore and Jordan Goldwire would be able to mask the defensive deficiencies of Joey Baker and Matthew Hurt.

That’s just a few lineup idea’s, but there are plenty of others out there.

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