If the iron is hot, and the allure of the NBA is calling, you might as well strike. With that being said, I’m a little curious about Trevon Duval’s decision to enter the 2018 NBA Draft. Yes, Duke's 2018 recruiting class is arguably the best in the program's esteemed history. Yes, there’s a highly-touted point guard in that class, Tre Jones -- the younger brother of national championship hero, Tyus. I'm still skeptical. For one, Duval would start over Jones and would dramatically improve his stock by sticking around one more year and entering a much weaker 2019 NBA Draft, where he'd undoubtedly be the most gifted floor general, forcing teams to select him in the lottery. He should still be a first rounder, albeit late, but according to the mock draft on NBAdraft.net, the first point guard wouldn’t go off the board in 2019 until the 10th pick. Lack of point guards, equals perfect situation.
Let’s get into Duval as a player, and how he projects in the 2018 draft. At times, he struggled at Duke and his lack of a consistent outside shot was exposed during several outings. A lot of this was the result of playing in a post-oriented offense, which was tailored to the skills of lottery big men Wendell Carter Jr. and Marvin Bagley III. His jumper will improve as he spends more hours in the gym, but the former prep phenom is at his best when he’s able to push the pace and get out in transition, where he’s a certified showstopper. He also showed off a mesmerizing handle, above-average court vision, the agility to hound opposing guards and the ability to get to the cup at will and finish above-the-rim. When he was in the zone and Duke was playing against better competition, Duval was electric, making defenders look silly with his sweet ball skills and John Wall-esque maneuvers through the lane. Case in point, the Elite 8 against Kansas, when he scored a team-high 20 points, dished out six dazzling dimes and looked like arguably the best player on the floor while competing with/against a variety of future NBA players.
An NBA team is going to have to be patient with the floor general if they want to maximize his abilities. He might need a little polishing in the G-league but if all goes to plan, he could see similar success as someone like Kris Dunn, who’s becoming one of the better young two-way point guards.