On April 6th, 2011 Kyrie Irving made one of the most unsurprising declarations for the NBA Draft of any Duke Basketball underclassman this century. He was selected #1 overall and took his 17.5 points per game with him. Nobody blamed him for leaving, but I’m not sure many people realized how many points per game were leaving with he, Nolan Smith, and Kyle Singler last Spring.
Duke averaged 80.9 points per game last season. The three players who left averaged 55. That Kyrie only played 11 of 37 games means that there were a number of points available for other players that they likely wouldn’t have gotten yet the 2012 Blue Devils’ returning leading scorer, Seth Curry, only averaged 9 points a game one year ago.
What the Duke coaching staff has done this year on the offensive end is really remarkable. The scoring average only dropped by 2.2 points per game, even after replacing 68% of their scoring output from last season. Duke has four players averaging in double figures, led by Austin Rivers at 15.3 points per game. Most importantly, SIX different players have been the leading scorer in the team’s 32 games.
While last year was dominated by Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler, 2012 has been a year of balance for the Blue Devils. However, that balance was disrupted one week ago today when forward Ryan Kelly (Duke’s leading scorer in 5 games) sprained his right foot in practice.
Without Kelly in the offense, spreading the floor with his 40% perimeter shooting, Duke’s offense averaged 19 points below its season average. 19 POINTS.
Duke’s offensive efficiency (normally 112.6%) was at 101.7% in Duke’s first game without the junior forward against Virginia Tech and 93.7% against Florida State in their next. Sure, you say, Florida State is a really good defensive team. I agree. But even in the game Duke lost to Florida State earlier in the season Duke’s offensive efficiency was 109. That 101.7% mark was Duke’s 5th lowest of the season, and the 93.7% was the lowest by three percentage points. The next lowest was 96.9% @ Ohio State, a game in which Kelly scored zero points on two shots.
It’s clear that Duke needs Kelly in order for the offense to be in sync. According to this report from the Durham Herald-Sun last night, he still has not been cleared to practice. Like they did in the offseason, thDuke may just have to replace a big piece of their offensive production.
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