Height – 6’3″
Weight – 190 lbs
Age – 19
School – Duke
DraftExpress Rank – 52
Season Stats – 29.7 minutes, 10.3 points, 5.6 assists, 2.0 rebounds, 42.8% FG, 29.0% 3PT, 59.6% FT
Think of the last time you created a new player on MyPlayer in NBA 2K. If you’re like me, you create a point guard so that you can always have the ball. Increasing your athletic attributes cost too much, so you create an athletic point guard. You then spend your time during games hoisting three-pointers knowing they won’t go in but hoping they do because you get more skill points if you make them.
This was Trevon Duval at Duke.
Duval could not have been placed into a worse fit for his skillset. Physically, he has the tools to be a productive NBA player. But his weaknesses were highlighted over and over in Durham, taking away some of the shine of what makes him a good prospect.
Attacking the basket – Many of Duke’s best games came when Duval was attacking and getting into the paint. However, those moments were rare because the paint was often clogged.
Whether Mike Krzyzewski recruited Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter expecting the former to be in the Class of 2019 or he recruited both of them with the idea of getting the best talent and figuring out fit later, the combination could not have been worse for Duval.
A player who exceeds when able to attack the rim, Duval struggled all season in doing so. Any time he would blow past his man, often Bagley and Carter’s defenders were standing in the lane waiting on him. And as a result, Duval’s struggles to finish against contact were highlighted over and over.
On the season, 44.5 percent of Duval’s came at the rim, but he shot just 55.8 percent on those attempts at the rim.
Duval is physically big enough that he can get into and around defenders and is able to beat his guy one-on-one, but at Duke, that would just mean two more guys were waiting on him. In an offense more spaced out, he could potentially do more damage.
Playmaking – Duval’s eye for passes is unquestioned. He can see the court well and has a knack for making great passes at times.
His problem comes in that he often prefers fashion over function. When a simple drop-off pass might work, he’ll try a behind-the-back pass. It’s a habit that should be easily breakable and when it does, it’ll further open up the game for Duval.
Shooting – It’d be impossible to evaluate Duval and not talk about his shooting because boy was it bad. It’s hard to know whether he shot so many threes because the coaching staff asked him to or if he was just unaware he shot 29 percent from three on the year.
Duke badly needed shooting from its guards this season, which led to Duval attempting just shy of three three-pointers per game. I’m willing to write it off as Duke needing him to score more than him continually shooting.
It got to points in the season that teams would sag off Duval enough that it would stymy his attacking. Think how the Lakers defended Rajon Rondo in the 2010 Finals. Defenses would dare him to shoot and clog the lane and he often had no answer other than driving into traffic.
There’s a lot wrong with Duval’s shot. When he missed, he missed badly. It’s a shot that needs major reworking. It’s a large part of what makes him a project long-term. It’s hard to imagine him ever being much of an outside shooter, but he was a 59.6 percent free throw shooter and with how often he attacks the rim, that part needs to be fixed more urgently.
Length – Duval has the size that you would want in a point guard with a wingspan somewhere between 6’10 and 7′, depending on which source you believe. He averaged 1.5 steals per game but certainly could improve as a one-on-one defender.
Instincts – More often than not, Duval would get himself and Duke into trouble with poor instincts. He would often jump passing lanes too eagerly or lunge after passes he did not have a chance at getting to. Many of those moments came in transition and would often put Duke at a disadvantage going the other way.
With his length, Duval could be a nightmare in passing lanes. Learning when to jump the lanes and getting a better feel for the game is the big step for him.
Fit With Lakers
Duval is someone the Lakers might target in the second round and he’d be a lot like Thomas Bryant in that the tools are there, but development will be critical. Duval won’t turn 20 until mid-August which means, in theory, the Lakers could send him to the G-League for a year and have him develop slowly.
Given his lack of shooting, though, it’d be a pick the Lakers make if they seem high upside in Duval. He wouldn’t be an instant contributor and how much he could contribute to a pace-and-space offense without a three-point shot remains to be seen.