Rasheed Sulaimon's offensive development could be key in Duke's scoring success. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY
For today's three-dimensional edition, I wrote a story laying out what we know about Seth Curry's leg injury. Check it out.
Without Curry, Duke lacks an elite outside scorer (Andre Dawkins's absence is felt here). Ryan Kelly is the second-best shooter on the team, per Mike Krzyzewski, but he has to be more consistent if, with Curry gone, he's the No. 1 outside option. For instance, Kelly closed his season last year with a season-high, 23-point performance against Wake Forest (7-of-13 from the floor and 4-of-5 from beyond the arc) followed by a 2-point game against North Carolina (1-for-8 and 0-of-5, respectively).
The Blue Devils' best bet would be to feed Mason Plumlee even more than they have in the first two exhibition games. Plumlee was 8-of-14 from the floor against Western Washington and then a perfect 7-for-7 vs. Winston-Salem State. It would behoove Duke to get him at least 10 touches in the low post. Those are high-percentage shots—give Plumlee the opportunity to make them.
Do remember, though, that getting Plumlee the ball down low is easier said than done. It has been a long, long time since Duke has run an inside-out offense, and it's certainly a foreign concept to the current guards. Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton are used to looking more East and West than North and South on the court. It may take awhile to break those old habits.
But let's go back to the perimeter. If Curry is unable to play or playing but unable to find a rhythm, and Kelly isn't hitting, next in line should be Rasheed Sulaimon. The freshman has the potential to be the type of player that can create his own shot off the dribble or at least penetrate to the point where he draws the defense in before kicking the ball to an open teammate. He's still finding his way, but if he can develop his offensive game, there's a high ceiling there.
In the interim, there could be games where Duke struggles to score points. In fact, it wouldn't shock me to see them use the old Florida State model at times: defend relentlessly and hope to get to 60 on the scoreboard. But we'll see. There's an entire season waiting to be played.