In advance of the 2018 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops will be breaking down prospects, both from the college ranks and internationally, with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks will be evaluating in the coming days. More than 50 prospects will be profiled in this space and, in the end, the goal is to inform Hawks fans prior to June 21, when the Hawks are scheduled to make four selections with the first 33 picks.
Today’s installment centers on Duke freshman point guard Trevon Duval.
Duke freshman Trevon Duval is a physical point guard with a body that is ready to play at the NBA level. While he brings a profile that translates very well to the NBA game, his shooting is the one area of his game that is keeping him from being a lottery pick.
Coming out of high school, Duval was heralded as an elite player who would make an immediate impact at the college level. Most recruiting sites had him ranked as a top-five player in his class. After a “one and done” season, Duval is projected to go anywhere from late in the first round to the middle of the second round of this summer’s draft.
Duval might be one of those players who would have been better served to not hire an agent to keep the option or returning to Duke for another season of college basketball. In his one and only season at Duke, he averaged 10.3 points and 5.6 assists per game, reasonably impressive numbers for a draft prospect playing on a roster crowded with future NBA players. But, he shot just 42.8 percent from the field, 29.0 percent from the three point line and 59.6 percent from the free throw line — shooting numbers that are a certain red flag for a prospect at the point guard position.
Duval is a 6’3 guard with a wingspan in the 6’9 range. At 195 pounds, he is very strong for his size and frame. He has the strength and athleticism to play immediately at the NBA level. He has quick hands, quick feet and an explosiveness that help him excel in the open court, in uptempo play or even when operating in the half-court offense with space. If NBA teams were drafting purely on physical profile, Duval would be a very strong lottery pick candidate.
Duval’s offensive strengths revolve around his ability to use his ball handling skills, speed and physicality to get the basketball anywhere he wants to go with it. His style of play resembles John Wall, but Duval does not have quite the same size and elite top-end speed that Wall possesses. Still, Duval should be a force with the ball in his hands especially in an up-tempo environment.
Duval strives to play a natural point guard role. He shows interest in creating opportunities for his teammates. While he does make nice plays to create scoring opportunities for himself and those on the floor with him, his play-making ability leans towards three or four highlight reel type of plays per game and not the simple but effective plays that need to be made possession after possession. Duval could struggle running the pick and roll game fluidly at the NBA level.
As mentioned, Duval’s biggest red flag is his shooting. His jump shot is mechanical and not fluid. His misses are more often clunky rather than giving the impression of a shot that had a chance to fall but just didn’t. He is capable of knocking down jump shots in spurts but has not given NBA teams any reason to believe he would be a league average shooter.
In addition to his jump shooting, Duval sometimes struggles to convert shots near the basket or at the rim with bigger defenders challenging his shot. When he uses his athleticism to get himself a free run at the basket, he can convert with either hand, even from awkward angles. But when he must finish in traffic with defenders at the rim, he does not consistently convert.
Duval is willing to absorb contact when making a run at the basket. He could play a style of game that lands him at the free throw line quite often. But his free throw shooting will need to improve if he is to capitalize on those opportunities.
Duval has the physical tools to be a plus defender at the NBA level. Many believe his height could restrict him to defending just one position, point guard. But his length, strong frame and physical style of play should allow him to handle assignments versus smaller wings. There are plenty of NBA guards in the 6’3 to 6’4 range who handle defending wings (particularly on switches) just fine.
Working against Duval is the fact that he mostly played zone defensive schemes for Duke. His limited work in man-to-man leaves those trying to evaluate him with questions about his ability to defend at the next level. NBA teams will likely be taking a very close look at Duval’s work in the five-on-five games at the upcoming draft combine to see how he matches up defensively versus players in his draft class.
In an era where NBA teams tend to value profile over skill and upside over certainty, Duval may find himself picked in the first round after all. But, in today’s NBA world when teams prefer to play with at least four shooters on the floor at all times, the team that spends a first round pick on him must believe his shooting woes are correctable.
The Hawks could be looking at Duval as a potential option with their picks at 30 and 33. But, unless he really impresses NBA teams at the combine or during private workouts, there is a good chance Duval could potentially slide out of the top 35 entirely.