Second-Round Candidate: Trevon Duval
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ID CARD: 6-foot-2½ point guard, Duke, freshman, 19 years old
DRAFT RANGE: Ranked 55th by ESPN.com, ranked 46th by SI.com, 22nd among guards by NBA.com
SCOUTS LOVE: It won’t shock you to learn that Duval was a five-star recruit considered the top point guard in his class because, well, that’s pretty much all Duke recruits these days. Explosive athleticism – the ability to play above the rim, get into the paint, and hound the ball defensively – is Duval’s stock in trade. Duval was overtaken by other freshmen point guards – Trae Young, Collin Sexton and Shea Gilgeous-Alexander, all expected to be lottery picks or close to it – as he had to share the spotlight with Duke freshmen Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter and Gary Trent Jr., as well as four-year star Grayson Allen. He managed a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio and played 30 minutes a game.
SCOUTS WONDER: Will Duval be able to shoot well enough to make an impact in the NBA? He didn’t show that ability at Duke, for sure, hitting just 29 percent of his 3-point attempts and taking about a third of his shots from the arc. And for all the hype he took with him to Durham, Duval didn’t turn heads with his playmaking ability, either. He jumps out for his speed and quickness, but that didn’t translate into a game-changing dynamic very often. Duval was anticipated to be a one and done player, but his hand was all but forced on the matter when Mike Krzyzewski recruited the top point guard in the 2018 class, Tre Jones, brother of former Duke one and done and current Minnesota Timberwolves backup point guard Tyus Jones. It feels less like Duval headed to the NBA on merit and more like a fear of being passed over by Jones.
NUMBER TO NOTE: – 41.5 – That was Duval’s vertical jump as recorded at the NBA draft combine last month in Chicago, one-half inch off of the top mark recorded. Duval also was one-half inch off the top standing vertical jump (34 inches). Those numbers confirmed what was suspected about Duval: He won’t be overmatched athletically in the NBA.
MONEY QUOTE: “I think pick and roll, period, is one of my strengths. It’s something that I’ve been doing for a long time – in high school, AAU, it’s something that me and my dad have been training pretty much all my life. I think (my skill set) translates well to the NBA. My game suits the NBA more. Transition or even in the half court, I feel as if I can use my speed with pick and roll.” – Trevon Duval at the NBA draft combine last month.
PISTONS FIT: While it’s not their greatest need – the Pistons are going to be on the hunt for wings this off-season, particularly those capable of guarding a variety of small forwards – grooming a young point guard makes sense with Ish Smith heading into the final season of the three-year deal he signed in 2016 and Reggie Jackson having two years left on his deal.
BOTTOM LINE: Somebody’s going to grab Duval based on his track record before arriving at Duke. There’s a case to be made that Duke’s personnel this season wasn’t conducive to bringing out the best in Duval and that he’ll thrive in an NBA where the emphasis is on spreading the floor with shooters and attacking the openings that creates with explosive playmakers. Duval doesn’t have the shooting half of that combination in place yet, but it’s easier to groom someone to be a shooter than it is to make a plodder into an explosive playmaker. The Pistons only have one pick – 42 – and maybe it turns out there are still too many surer things available at that spot, but Duval has enough intrigue to put himself in the conversation.