Duke men’s basketball just concluded their Canadian Tour, and R.J. Barrett and Zion Willaimson lived up to all the hype they have received coming into this season. They started the 2018-2019 season with a bang, and with their performances on the tour, they have everybody in Durham excited, and basketball fans everywhere.
Barrett averaged 31PPG, 6APG, 5RPG over three games and Williamson averaged 30PPG, 11RPG, 3APG, with many of their respective plays being instant social media highlights. Barrett comes into the season sitting at the number one spot in different mock drafts, and Williamson is seen as the fourth best prospect on the board. The Blue Devils are stacked with talent this year as Cameron Reddish is seen as the second or third best prospect on the board. Although he is uber talented as well, his play was outshined by his teammates.
Especially Zion his athleticism just jumps through the screen. Williamson routinely made plays that we have never seen a player with his size and strength make before. This comes as no surprise as Zion is already a youtube dunking sensation. I was more interested in seeing and watching Zion the basketball player. He showed off his ball handling skills and was able to routinely break his man down off the dribble using different ball handling moves. He was able to grab a rebound and start the break and was able to make the right pass or finish the play in a spectacular fashion. I would like to see him continue to work on his jump shot and also add some arc to his shot. His shot at times looked a little flat, but the form and follow through is solid. He played with a high level of energy and possesses a motor and aggression that makes him an imposing player on the court. Athletically we have never seen anyone his size this explosive. For me, he reminds me of Paul McPherson who played at the DePaul with Quentin Richardson. The major difference is Paul is 6’2”, and Zion is listed at 6’7” 285 lbs. I personally think his more like 6’6” 260 but that is all semantics anyway. My only advice would be to limit those useless dunks in warmups. While they may excite the crowd and get yourself and your teammates going. In the words of Chris Webber, you only get so many jumps in those knees.
RJ is not as explosive as Zion but as I already stated who is. He is touted for his all-around play and skill level. He’s listed at 6’7” and he's probably more like 6’5”, but his versatility is the reason why he’s regarded as the number one prospect and number one pick in this year's draft. This was a homecoming for Barrett, and he did not disappoint his hometown crowd. Barrett is one of the main reasons the future is so bright for the Candian National Team. It was Barrett who led Team Canada’s U19 team to a gold medal in the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup, after upsetting Team USA in the semi-final round. He has a complete skill set already there is nothing he can not do. He can shoot from the outside, and with his ball handling ability he’s able to take the ball and led the break and make the right decision whether it is finishing the play himself or passing off to a teammate. He’s great in the half court and is able to run the pick n roll at a high level and make smart playmaking reads as he comes off of the pick n roll. Barrett with his versatility has the potential to be a generational talent.
I know what your thinking they did not play against the best talent with all of Duke’s wins coming in the blow out variety. They both need to improve their defense, but that is something that always needs improvement. The sky is the limit for these two and with all of the players that have walked through historic Cameron Indoor Stadium these two might be the most exciting and talented players' coach “K” has ever coached in his 30 plus years at Duke. I know that is a bold statement, but with one and done rule still in effect let’s just sit back enjoy the show, it will be over before we know it.