In Just One Game, the Duke Blue Devils have Taken Over Basketball
The grandest basketball show in the world is no longer the reigning champion Golden State Warriors.
In fact, the show isn’t even taking place on the greatest level of basketball – the NBA – is happening in college basketball.
The show is called Duke Blue Devils basketball – and after one game – it has taken over basketball.
“You start four freshmen, no matter how talented they are, you never know what they’re going to do in this environment against an outstanding team and great program. And they responded,” Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters following Duke’s dominant 34 point win over the Kentucky Wildcats.
In their first official game together, the trio of freshman expected to be top-five picks in next year’s NBA Draft handed the storied Kentucky program their worst season opening loss in the program’s history.
They came out just as advertised.
The three-headed beast spearheaded by the man-child, Zion Williamson exploded for 83 of Duke’s 118-points for the game. Canadian R.J. Barrett led the way with 33-points, Williamson added 28-points of his own on 11-for-13 shooting (included 1-for-1 from long range, simply because he is not just a dunker), and the unheralded third freshman star Cameron Reddish added 22 points of his own, while gathering four steals. The younger brother of Duke alum and Minnesota Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones, Tre made his Duke debut as well, putting up six points, while dishing out seven assists.
Although the trio of freshman stars logged in 70 percent of Duke’s scoring output, it did not tell the full tale of what was an absolute mauling of a game.
The Wildcats were outmatched, out-muscled and looked like children amongst men who just so happen to be 18 years of age. Barrett, the international sensation out of Canada may be the greatest product to come out of the country when all is said and done. He is tall, lanky, projectable and versatile. He can push the basketball and is perfect for this era of ‘positionless’ basketball. He is a scoring machine and has the in-game maturity of an NBA veteran. As for Reddish, he is a 6-foot-7 wing – he is a long and wiry, with great size. A 7-foot-1 wingspan and an 8-foot-9 standing reach. For a young prospect, he is fluid yet explosive – controlled, yet shifty. And he can shoot.
“I don’t think age makes much of a difference with this team,” Reddish said following the debut of the big three. “Everybody’s unselfish, and our coaching staff is going to help us (mature) fast.”
Then there’s Zion.
The six-foot-six, 285-pound freak of nature.
If he can consistently hit a jump shot, which showed signs of future potential in the first game of the season, Williamson may very well be on a Hall of Fame path. He is simply dominant on both ends on the court, using his strength and quite possibly the greatest athleticism we’ve ever seen on a basketball court to overpower his opposition. He has an NBA ready body and an NBA ready game, and while the shot may not be there yet, he is only 18 years old and it too shall come.
That being said, the hype train has taken off and until this season is over, no one will take their eyes off the Duke freshman – not even for a second.