Peachtree Hoops continues its 2021 NBA Draft scouting report series with a look at Chris Duarte, a wing out of Oregon.
Chris Duarte will almost assuredly be the oldest player taken in the lottery if he is selected in the top-14. At 24 years old, he’s five years older than many of his draft classmates. There are both pros and cons to being an older prospect.
A pro for Duarte is that for teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Pelicans, etc. that want to win next season, he is someone they can potentially trust more than say a 19-year-old one-and-done prospect like Jaden Springer to be productive right away. The drawback is obviously that a younger prospect ideally stands much more room to improve throughout their career.
Depsite his age, Duarte is routinely mocked in the lottery, often times to the Warriors at No. 14. He ranks No. 19 on ESPN’s best available, and No. 13 on Sam Vecenie’s final big board. What draws teams to Duarte is his shooting. He shot 42% on 5.5 three-point attempts per in his final season with Oregon, and those weren’t all wide open catch-and-shoot looks either.
Duarte is comfortable shooting off movement, stepping back, you name it he can pretty much do anything as a shooter. In today’s game that carries a ton of weight for a 6’6 prospect that has also flashes some potential on the defensive end. He’s a fully unlocked shooter coming in, with an arsenal of ways to attack closeouts, including a deadly mid-range pull-up.
Duarte profiles as an off-ball guard, and someone who ideally steps right into a team’s second unit and contributes something as a shooter. Duarte had a 69.2 eFG% on catch-and-shoot this past season, which is quite stellar and leads one to believe he’ll be a solid off-ball weapon in rather short order at the next level. He wasn’t a primary playmaker for the Ducks, and at his age it seems he’s unlikely to turn over much of a new leaf in that area, though you never fully know.
In terms of finishing, Duarte was pretty solid at the rim in college, but doesn’t have the type of burst or speed that many good players around the rim have in the NBA. There’s a bit of skepticism regarding his finishing I think which Mike Schmitz of ESPN talked about in his write up on their big board. Schmitz listed finishing as one of his improvement areas for Duarte:
- Plays more off two feet than one foot when inside the arc. Great collegiate finisher but can stand to add more nuance around the rim against NBA rim-protectors. Doesn’t get to the free throw line at a high rate.
Duarte was a really, really sound defender in college, one of the better two-way players in the nation in his final season. There are a few questions heading into the next level, though, with the biggest one perhaps being exactly where he fits on the defensive end of the floor in the NBA.
Duarte is a bit undersized to guard 3s and 4s with his slender frame and 6’7 wingspan, and he may not have the lateral speed to stay with lead guards at the point of attack. Not that he will be a disaster in any one area, but he may be sort of a tweener as a defender. He’s a traditional 2 in terms of size and build, a position that seems to be shrinking out of the game along with power forward as the game perpetually moves more towards teams being built with lead creators and 6’8 3-and-D wings like Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter.
Duarte had solid steal and block rates at Oregon, and the tape reflects that he is indeed an active defender. Duarte should be a solid team defender and someone who can handle a third or maybe even second option offensively, but he’s a little light to hold up vs. the bigger ball handling wings around the league. Ideally, he’ll be able to stick on secondary initiators until/unless he bulks up a bit more.
Fit with Hawks
I’m not sure there’s a team that Duarte doesn’t fit on. He may not be the most prototypical 3-and-D wing, but he brings a lot to the table and getting a shooter of his efficacy on a rookie scale contract is a big deal. He is very likely to be off the board at No. 20, but if he’s there it would be difficult to envision a better player at this moment being on the board. There may be higher ceiling options, but as far as better players from day one, not sure the Hawks would be lucky enough to find one better than Duarte on the board at No. 20.