Analyzing Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and Tre Jones in the Duke-Indiana Game

November 28, 2018

by Alan Lu

This time around, I took the time to watch Duke play against Indiana in an early season, non-conference college basketball game.  Both Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett played very well, as they combined to score 47 points to lift Duke to a double-digit victory.  Here are my thoughts on how they fared, as well as how their games may stack up in the NBA.

Duke’s freshman forward, Zion Williamson had a terrific showing in his team’s win over Indiana.  He did a great job of attacking the basket to garner scores, he passed the ball well, was active on the boards, and he also played solid defense when he was on the court.  Williamson did a great job of getting scores off the dribble.  He has a quick first step to the hoop, and he was able to draw lots of free throws upon the opposition.  He managed to score on a speedy dunk off of a drive, and he also scored on a thunderous windmill dunk in transition after jumping a pass to get a steal.

He also excelled as a finisher around the basket.  Williamson showed a knack for scoring on strong put backs, and he also had a knack for throwing down powerful dunks to get scores at the rim.  He also managed to score on a roll as well.  He also showed a decent ability to score in the post.  Williamson has good footwork and exceptional strength, and he was able to get scores using drop steps and step through moves.  But sometimes, he would try to force the issue too much, which would lead him to miss shots at times.  He also took a couple of threes, but ended up missing them from beyond the arc.

Also, Williamson displayed solid playmaking skills.  He has a quick spin move that he can use to get past opponents when driving to the hoop, and he also showed a solid ability to kick the ball out to shooters to set up scores for his teammates.  He also throws good interior passes, and he did a good job of finding the open man, but sometimes he would throw hasty passes on occasion, which can be deflected or intercepted on occasion.  Plus, he also did a fairly good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was quite active at crashing the glass, and he would leap up to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  Even better, he would often capitalize on getting offensive rebounds by scoring on put backs to get his team second chance points afterwards.

He also played very good defense in this game.  Williamson has terrific leaping ability, instincts, and timing, and he would often rotate to block shots to protect the paint for his team.  He also would jump passes to obtain steals, and he is a rangy defender that can cover a lot of ground on this end of the floor.  He also managed to tie up an opponent to almost get another steal, and he did a great job of contesting and altering shots to force misses.  However, sometimes he can gamble a bit too much defensively, which can lead him to be out of position, as he ended up allowing a couple of scores to his opponents.

In general, Zion Williamson played really well in his team’s victory over Indiana, and he looks to be the frontrunner to be the top pick of the 2019 draft.  He is a tremendously athletic specimen that can play any position on the floor, and he is an excellent shot creator that can create shots for others, and he also plays very good defense.  The only thing is that he will still need to continue to improve his jump shot.  Even still, he is a tremendously talented player that has a ton of upside, and he could end up being a perennial All-Star at the next level.

Duke’s 6-7 freshman swingman, R.J. Barrett put forth a good performance to lead his team to cruise to a blowout win over Indiana.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, and he also played solid defense in this game.  He did struggle with some turnovers and fouled out, but he played quite well to help get his team the victory on this day.  Barrett did a good job of attacking the basket to garner scores.  He can get scores using either hand, and he also can score on floaters.  Plus, he also has an assortment of dribble moves that allows him to knock down pull-up jumpers.  In addition, Barrett did a terrific job of scoring on fast breaks, and he even ran the floor to catch a lob pass in order to score on an alley-oop dunk in transition.  But sometimes he would try to rush his shots in traffic, which would lead to some misses.

Plus, he also shot the ball well.  He excelled at knocking down spot-up threes, and he was able to space the floor to help his team.  Barrett also can score on hustle plays, and he managed to score on a tip in once off of an offensive rebound.  However, he was quite turnover prone in this game.  Though he looked to score quite often, sometimes Barrett would look to find the open man to set up scoring opportunities for his teammates.  On the other hand, Barrett tended to throw hasty, inaccurate passes that would go astray, and some of them ended up out of bounds, others ended up being intercepted by defenders.  Other times, he would play too recklessly when looking to make a play on offense.  He also committed a charging foul when driving to the hoop another time.  Also, he was called for committing a clear out foul when driving to the hoop, which led him to foul out.

Barrett did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  He was very active at crashing the glass, and he would haul in numerous boards on both ends of the floor.  He also played solid defense.  He did a good job of blocking shots, and he would rotate to swat shots off of drives due to possessing great leaping ability, instincts, and timing to do so on those plays.  He also managed to jump a pass to get a steal.  Plus, he also would actively contest and alter shots from all over the court to force misses.  However, he can be too aggressive defensively, as he ended up committing a couple of fouls in this game.  He also once over-helped in the lane, and was late to rotate, which allowed his man to score on a corner three.

In summary, R.J. Barrett had a good showing to help lead his team to another double-digit victory this season.  He is a very athletic swingman that can help his team in a variety of ways, and he is a terrific shot creator that can easily get his own shot.  Sometimes, he can be a bit too out of control at times, as his shot selection can sometimes suffer.  But Barrett played well in this game, and as he is a very talented player that may possess an enormous amount of upside, he still looks to be a strong contender to at least be a top 3 pick in the 2019 draft.

Duke’s freshman point guard Tre Jones also played well, as he primarily excelled as a scorer and facilitator in this game against Indiana.  Jones did a very good job of getting scores off the dribble.  He is a crafty player that can maneuver his way into the paint, and he can score on smooth right-handed drives to the hoop, as well as off of floaters.  Plus, he also managed to knock down a pull-up jumper from the right elbow while drawing an extra free throw simultaneously.

Also, he can score on hustle plays.  He was able to score on a put back, and he also was able to score on a drive in transition.  But sometimes, he may miss shots every once in a while due to rushing them.  He also took a couple of threes, but was unable to connect on them from beyond the arc.  He also showcased solid playmaking skills.  Jones is an unselfish player that will find the open man, and he will make the extra pass to keep the ball moving.  He would find open shooters to rack up assists, and he also was able to hit a roll man to set up an additional score.  He also did a very good job of controlling the basketball, as he did not commit a single turnover in this game.

Plus, he also rebounded the ball well.  Jones was especially active at crashing the defensive glass, and sometimes he would push the ball up the floor after grabbing boards for his team.  Defensively, he looked to be about above average.  For the positives, he is an aggressive defender that will play passing lanes to get steals and deflections, and he also will heap on loose balls to help get additional steals for his team.  Also, Jones managed to step in to successfully draw a charge when defending a drive once.

However, he can tend to commit reach-in fouls due to over-aggressiveness.  Other times, he may give up too much space to his man on jump shots, which can cause him to allow scores to his opponents.  Overall, Tre Jones had a strong showing, as he was able to help get his team another victory in the college basketball season.  He is a smart, skilled playmaker that can reliably run an offense, and he does a very good job of controlling the basketball and the tempo.  With his skill set, he could be a good value pick for an NBA team in the mid to late first round range of the upcoming draft.

Duke’s 6-7 freshman swingman, Cam Reddish had his ups and downs throughout this contest.  While he struggled at various moments of this game, he played well late in the second half as he was able to show some interesting skills on offense when he was on the court.  Reddish did a very good job of knocking down jumpers to space the floor for his team.  He excelled at making spot-up threes off the catch, as he can run quickly off screens to get open, and he also has a lot of range on his shot.  He also drew a lot of free throws, but did not make many of them in this particular game.

He also showed an adequate ability to score on aggressive drives to the hoop.  Reddish has a good first step to the basket, and he has good body control to finish plays around the basket.  He was able to drive left to score on a nice reverse layup, and he also used a quick spin move to draw free throws on another drive.  Reddish generally showed a good knack to get to the foul line after taking the ball to the rim, but sometimes, Reddish can struggle to score in traffic and he also had his shots blocked twice due to rushing his shots on offense.

However, he was quite turnover prone in this contest.  For the positives, Reddish made a concerted effort late in this match to find the open man, as he can get the ball to shooters to set up scoring chances for them.  On the downside, he had trouble protecting the basketball on drives to the hoop, as he was prone to losing the ball or getting it poked away by his opponents.  He also was called for setting a moving screen another time on one occasion.

He also did not grab many rebounds, but he was able to leap up to get a couple of defensive boards, and he drew free throws after grabbing one on one possession, but another time, he was called for committing an off ball foul when going for an offensive board.  Defensively, he looked to be about average.  Reddish did a good job of contesting mid-range jumpers to force misses.  However, sometimes he can struggle to stay with his man when defending drives, as he can be prone to committing touch fouls as a result.

In summary, Cam Reddish struggled to consistently make plays in this game, but he played better late in this contest.  While he has had his ups and downs this season, Reddish is an athletic swingman that can shoot and pass the basketball, and has good defensive potential.  While he may not be a lock to be in the top 3, Reddish is a talented player that could end up being a solid starter in the NBA if he can continue to hone his overall game.

Indiana’s 6-6 freshman swingman, Romeo Langford also had his ups and downs throughout this game like Reddish, but unfortunately, his play was relatively disappointing overall.  Though he showed a good ability to attack the basket to get scores and also played good defense, Langford had trouble knocking down jumpers against Duke, which hurt his scoring efficiency in this match.

Langford showed an adequate ability to get scores on aggressive drives to the hoop.  He can score using either hand, and he was able to score on a reverse layup as well as a on a nifty scoop shot when going to his left.  But he also tended to miss runners in traffic, and he also missed a two-handed dunk on the break due to carelessness.  He also did a good job of scoring on hustle plays.  Langford was able to score on a tip-in, and he also managed to draw free throws on a dunk attempt off of a cut.  He also drew free throws after an aggressive drive in transition.  He also attempted to post up, but missed after making a strong move in traffic.

However, Langford did not shoot the ball well from outside of the paint area.  For the positives, he was able to make a long two just inside the arc, but Langford was unable to connect on any of his three-point attempts, and he also missed badly on a some of his pull-up, mid-range shots.  So far, he has not had much success in making long-range jumpers this season.  He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.

Langford is an unselfish player that will move the ball, and he would kick the ball out to shooters off of drives to set up scores for his teammates.  He also was able to hit the cutter, and he also threw a behind the back pass to help set up a scoring chance due to possessing good court vision.  However, he can be careless at times, which can lead him to commit turnovers.  He lost the ball out of bounds after running to get it on the break once, and he also ended up catching a pass out of bounds that led to another turnover.

Plus, Langford did a good job of rebounding the basketball.   In this game, he was able to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor, and he especially showed a knack for collecting offensive rebounds.  He also played adequate defense.  Langford played solid help defense, as he is an active and alert defender that can get blocks and steals for his team.  He managed to use his leaping ability and timing to swat a couple of shots off of drives, and he also caught an errant pass thrown to him to get a steal. 

He also poked a ball away to help his team force another turnover, and he would look to stay in front of his man and contest shots to force some misses.  However, sometimes he had trouble guarding quicker players, as he would get beat off the dribble, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Another time, he struggled to stay with his man when fighting through a screen off the ball, and he ended up allowing his opponent to get the ball to score on a corner three.

Overall, Romeo Langford did not have his best game, but he did show some interesting skills in spite of that.  Langford is a tough, mobile swingman that can get scores on aggressive drives and hustle plays, and he generally played well in the non-shooting related categories of this game.  He played good defense, was active on the glass, and also was a ball mover on offense.

However, he will need to improve his jump shot.   Langford has not done a very good job of knocking down jumpers from beyond the arc or free throws, and he will need to make more shots when he takes them outside of the paint area.  Overall, Langford is a lottery level talent in which, though he may not be a lock to go in the top five, he has a variety of skills that could allow him to succeed in a complementary role in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Indiana’s 6-8 senior forward, Juwan Morgan did not have a great game overall against Duke.  He struggled defensively, as he ran into foul trouble, did not show much range on his shot or ability to create off the dribble, and he also had some careless turnovers.  He did have some good moments.  Morgan excelled as a scorer particularly off of cuts to the hoop, and he also is a good low post scorer that has the strength and shooting touch to get buckets after setting up on the block.  He also can pass out of the post and throw outlet passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates.

Overall, Morgan did not play well overall, but did make some good plays at times on offense.  Though he lacks the ideal size or physical tools to play inside, Morgan is a player that can get some buckets at the collegiate level.  He will need to improve his jump shot and position defense in order to be able to make his way into the NBA, but if he can, he could perhaps reinvent himself into being a player similar to former Indiana Pacers’ forward, Chris Copeland in the association.