Assessing Frank Jackson, Miles Bridges, and Others in a Game Between Duke and Michigan State

November 30, 2016

By Alan Lu

I was able to get another opportunity watch Duke and Michigan State play, and plenty of interesting prospects participated in this game.  Even though Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, and Marques Bolden continued to sit out due to injuries, this game still featured multiple players that could be first round picks in 2017 or in future drafts.

The first half was a closely played game, as both teams were tied at the half.  But then, Duke went was able to go on scoring runs to pull away for a nine-point victory.  Here are my observations on how various players performed on this day.

Duke’s freshman point guard Frank Jackson showcased a terrific ability to attack the basket to garner scores.  He is a lightning fast playmaker that can routinely split through multiple defenders to get quick buckets for his team.  Plus, he also can score on floaters in the paint.  Plus, he also shot the ball well.  In the second half, he was able to make an open, spot-up three in the corner, as his ability to shoot the basketball can really make him a dynamic scorer on the floor.

Jackson also displayed solid playmaking skills.  He did a very good job of finding the open man, as he was able to consistently find shooters and cutters to set up scores.  He also has excellent speed and quickness that allow him to split through double teams, as well as to consistently turn the corner off of pick and rolls.

Also, he showed adequate rebounding skills.  Jackson was quite active on the glass on both ends of the floor, and he also was able to tap a ball out to a teammate to help his team get an offensive board to retain possession of the basketball.

He also showcased adequate defensive skills.  Jackson played aggressive defense on his man, as he would apply heavy ball pressure up the court, as he was able to help force a turnover on an inbounds play.   Plus, he did a good job of staying in front of his man to contest shots in order to force misses.

On the other hand, he did run into some foul trouble.  He showed a tendency to commit touch fouls, as he would play too aggressively on defense at times.  But generally, Jackson played fairly good position defense, as he was able to help his team get plenty of stops on this side of the ball.

In general, Frank Jackson had an excellent game, as he may have had his best performance of the year.  He scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, made 1 three, and also had 4 rebounds, and 3 assists against Michigan State.  His ability to take the ball to the basket to garner scores off the dribble seemed reminiscent to San Antonio Spurs’ guard Tony Parker, and Jackson is a terrific talent that could be a potential lottery pick if he continues to play well this season.

Michigan State’s 6-8 freshman forward, Miles Bridges had an uneven performance in a loss to Duke.  He did not consistently play well throughout this game, but he had some good moments at times as he generally played considerably better than how he fared against Kentucky.

Bridges showed a terrific ability to score in transition.  He did a very good job of scoring and getting free throws on speedy drives on fast breaks, as he showed the penchant for taking defensive rebounds, and going coast to coast to get all the way to the basket.  He can really accelerate the ball up the court, and he has very good strength and body control to score on these types of plays.

He also showed an adequate ability to score off the dribble in the half court.  Bridges has a good first step, and he was able to draw free throws on one drive to the hoop.  Another time, he used a quick spin move off of a high post drive, but missed by attempting to be too fancy on an emphatic dunk attempt.

Also, he showed an adequate ability to finish plays around the basket.  Bridges was able to really elevate to throw down a high-flying put back dunk late in the second half.  Sure, he had a shot rejected early in the game, and missed another time on a fancy attempt to throw down a huge put back dunk, but Bridges is an incredibly athletic specimen that has the potential to get a lot of second chance points off of offensive rebounds.

But, Bridges struggled to make jumpers consistently.  While he was able to make a three and a mid-range jumper off the catch, he missed plenty of other jumpers when he was open.  He generally missed on spot-up threes, and he also had trouble scoring on pull-up jumpers from inside the arc.

Bridges showed fairly average playmaking skills.  He did not commit nearly as many turnovers as he did against Kentucky, but he still committed a few, including one where he was called for pushing off an opponent when going baseline on a drive to the hoop to commit an offensive foul and turnover on one possession.  He also did not pick up an assist, but he was able to find open shooters in transition to set up scoring chances.

He also displayed a great ability to rebound the basketball.  Bridges showed off great leaping ability, quickness, motor, and instincts to haul in boards on both ends of the floor, as he would provide his team with chances to score after grabbing offensive rebounds, and he also would push the ball up the floor off of defensive rebounds.

Bridges generally displayed solid defensive skills.  He was able to get deflect a lot of passes, as he was able to help his team get steals in this game.  Bridges also was active in contesting shots in order to force misses, and he also would hedge on screens.  But he did run into foul trouble, as he tended to be overly physical with the opposition at times.

In general, Miles Bridges still did not have as good of a game that was anticipated, but he still managed to show some interesting skills on the floor.  Right now, he is being tasked to carry what looks to be a fairly mediocre Michigan State team that may not be nearly as talented as their previous teams.

Because of this, this could likely drive down Bridges’ scoring efficiency, as he will have to shoulder the bulk of the scoring load on offense, and he may end up forcing up some tough shots that he may not have to otherwise do if players such as Denzel Valentine and Deyonta Davis were still on the team.

But regardless, Miles Bridges is a very talented combination forward, and right now, he is a very athletic specimen whose defense looks to be ahead of his offense.  He still may have an enormous amount of upside, as he may likely project to be a lottery pick for the 2017 NBA Draft.

Duke’s junior guard, Grayson Allen had a fairly good game, as he played especially well in the second half to help lead his team to a nine-point win over Michigan State.  In this game, he scored 24 points, and notched 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals to help get his team the victory.  Allen did a great job of knocking down outside shots in this game.  He showed a terrific ability to make threes, as he would do so off the catch, sometimes off of curls, and he also has a step back move that he can use to score from long range.

Plus, he showed a decent ability to garner scores off the dribble.  Allen has a very good first step to get to the basket, and he also has a pump fake move that he can use to get past his man.  But sometimes, he would miss wild shots around the basket, as he would tend to force the issue, which would cause his shooting percentages to suffer.  He also showed an adequate ability to score on the move.  On one play, Allen was able to score on a backdoor cut to the hoop, and he also was able to get an extra free throw afterwards.  However, he did once miss on a wild drive to the hoop in transition another time.

Allen also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  He showed a solid ability to find the open man, as he would make passes to shooters, and he would also throw very good interior passes to set up plenty of scores for his team.  Sometimes, he would find teammates off the dribble to pick up assists.  But other times, he would try to do too much off the dribble, as he would be prone to committing a careless turnover, or a charging foul on occasion.

Allen played great defense in this game.  He was active in playing passing lanes, as he was able to get a couple of steals.  He also was able to break up a lob pass, and almost blocked a shot that was waved off, as these plays emphasized Allen’s great leaping ability and timing to do so.  Plus, he did a terrific job of drawing charges, as he may be one of the best in the college game at getting opponents to commit offensive fouls.

In summary, Grayson Allen had a very good showing to help lead his team to beat Michigan State.  He had his ups and downs at various times of the game, as he struggled to be a consistent performer in the first half, but then he played very well in the second half.  Allen overall displayed solid all-around skills, and he showed why he is being considered to be potentially a first round pick in 2017.

Duke’s sophomore guard, Luke Kennard also had a fairly good performance, as he helped lead his team to a nine-point victory over Michigan State.  In this game, he scored 20 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in a win for his team.

Kennard did a very good job of getting scores off the dribble.  He is a crafty scorer that can manuever his way to garner scores in the paint.  On one such play, he was able to use a spin move to score on a step through move, and he also managed to get the extra free throw afterwards.

Plus, he showed a good ability to score on mid-range jumpers.  Kennard can make spot-up and pull-up jumpers, and he also has a good pump fake move that he can use to get past his defenders.  Also, he showed the ability to make mid-range shots after coming off of pin-downs as well.

He also generally excelled at scoring on the move.  In this game, he rebounded the ball well on both ends of the floor, as he was able to capitalize on his offensive board by scoring on a put back afterwards.

But he struggled to make threes in this game.  He was able to make a quick three off the catch, but generally he struggled to knock down spot up or pull-up threes from beyond the arc.

Kennard displayed adequate playmaking skills.  He generally made solid interior passes, and he showed the ability to find open teammates off the dribble.  But sometimes, he was prone to making a careless mistake at times, which would lead him to commit turnovers.  He also played solid defense against Michigan State.  He was able to pick up a loose ball to get a steal.  Also, Kennard moved his feet to force the opposing driver to throw a tough sideline pass that eventually was intercepted.

In general, Luke Kennard had another good game, as he is a skilled player that plays the game like a seasoned veteran on the court.  He is an offensively sound playmaker that has a high basketball IQ, and he could end up being a first round pick in 2017.

Duke’s 6-9 senior forward, Amile Jefferson put forth a great performance in the win over Michigan State.  In this game, he scored 17 points, had 13 rebounds, and 3 assists to help his team get the victory.

Jefferson showed off very good low post scoring skills in this game.  He frequently was able to score on turnaround hook shots, and he also was able to score on a turnaround jumper, as well as off of a drop step move.  A few times, he had trouble finishing low plays in traffic, but generally he displayed solid footwork and shooting touch to garner scores on the block.

He also excelled as a finisher around the basket.   Jefferson was very active on offense, as he would frequently move off the ball, and he was able to get plenty of scores on put backs and rolls to the rim.  He was a huge asset for Duke in the screen game, as he would roll hard to the hoop to get scores for his team.

Jefferson also displayed solid playmaking skills.  He generally made good passes from the post, and he also was a terrific screen setter.  On one screen that he set, he was able to free up a shooter, as this helped set up a three-point basket for his team.  On one play though, Jefferson was called for a charging foul when looking to post up, but that call could have gone either way.

Plus, he demonstrated a great ability to rebound the basketball.  Jefferson was quite active on the glass on both ends of the floor, and he showcased solid leaping skills, motor, and instincts to haul in many boards throughout the contest.

He also played solid defense.  Jefferson defended very well in the post, as he would hold his ground to force misses, and also helped force a shot clock violation.  Plus, he moves his feet very well, as he was able to jump a pass to get a steal.  On another play, he also helped trap an opposing driver to throw a difficult sideline pass that resulted in a turnover for Michigan State.

In general, Amile Jefferson quietly had a terrific game, as he was one of the major reasons why Duke was able to defeat Michigan State.  While his draft stock may be firmly in the second round to undrafted range for reasons he cannot control, Jefferson is a very good role player that could continue to excel in a supporting role if he finds his way into the NBA.

Other Notes:

Duke’s 6-5 senior guard, Matt Jones showed off adequate passing skills, and played solid defense.  He was able to make a solid interior pass by finding the open man off the dribble to obtain an assist, and Jones was able to frequently jump passes to nab steals.

However, the normally gifted jump shooter struggled to make spot-up threes off the catch, which is normally his best skill.  Regardless, Jones probably will end up on an NBA summer league roster, as he could project into a 3 and D role at the next level.

6-5 freshman guard, Josh Langford showed some skills, as he also displayed the ability to score in a variety of ways.  He excelled as a jump shooter, as he was able to make a three and a pull-up, mid-range shot.   Langford also scored on a speedy drive.

He did commit an offensive foul and turnover on one play by committing a charging foul as he ran into an opponent after looking to score off of an offensive rebound.  But in general, Langford seems to be a promising player that has shown intriguing skills despite playing in limited minutes.  While he has barely played this season, Langford has been drawing some draft buzz, and he could be an interesting player to watch for the 2018 NBA Draft.

Michigan State’s 6-3 senior guard Eron Harris showcased solid scoring skills, as he managed to get 14 points in a loss to Duke.  He excelled as a scorer off the dribble, as he has very good speed, strength, and body control to garner plenty of scores in the paint.  He also excelled as a three-point shooter, as he would make quick threes off the catch.  He will need to improve in the other facets of the game, but he could end up on an NBA summer league roster due to his ability to shoot and score the basketball.

Duke’s 6-10 sophomore big man Chase Jeter had some good moments at times.  He was efficient in scoring within the limited amount of touches he received, as he was able to score on a jump hook, scored on a put back, and also drew free throws on a fadeaway pull-up, mid-range jumper.

He also was decent defensively.  Jeter was active in contesting shots to force misses, and he also once stepped up on a drive to force a ball handling turnover in traffic.   But, he tended to commit fouls when defending the paint, and he also struggled to defend screens at times, as this would allow opponents to get scores off the dribble.

Right now, Jeter still will need to polish up his overall game, but he could be an interesting player for teams to look at in the second round.  He is a mobile big man that has some scoring ability, and he could be a rim protector at the next level.  He still can be too inconsistent at times, and will need to improve his ability to rebound the basketball, but Jeter could be an interesting prospect for the 2018 NBA Draft.

Michigan State’s 6-8 freshman forward Nick Ward showcased strong inside scoring skills, as well as decent defensive skills.  He showed a good set of moves as well as very good hands and strength to get plenty of low post scores, and he also excelled as a finisher around the basket as he would get scores by making plays above the rim.

He also was able to hold his ground when defending the post, as he was able to block a shot to force a miss.  But he did commit some turnovers, as he was called for a moving screen, and also traveled once when doubled out of the post.

Like Langford, Nick Ward may not be a player NBA teams or scouts are likely watching this year, but he could be an interesting player to watch in 2018.  If he keeps playing as well as he did in this game, he could end up being like a Leon Powe type of player in the future.

So those are my thoughts for the Duke-Michigan State game.  Hope you enjoyed this analysis of how the prospects fared on November 29th, and thank you for reading.