In the ACC, some starting lineups are easy to figure out, while others will be much tougher, like Clemson’s for example. The fact is, Brad Brownell has a lot of new pieces to play with. He’s got a transfer, a couple of injury redshirts coming back into play and two decent freshmen as well. His two stars are gone and of the players coming back, only two started at least 25 games last year. What is a coach to do? First and foremost, he needs to put a lineup on the floor that can score some freaking points. This team averaged a pathetic 61.5 points per game last year, good enough to crack 300th in the nation.
GONE: Devin Booker, Milton Jennings, Bernard Sullivan and T.J. Sapp (left early last season)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
G – Jordan Roper (SO), 5-11/155
G – Devin Coleman (R-SO), 6-2/200
F – Jaron Blossomgame (R-FR), 6-7/205
F – K.J. McDaniels (JR), 6-6/195
C – Landry Nnoko (SO), 6-10/240
I’ll be honest, I went back and forth on this starting lineup. I started off with both Hall and Harrison in the starting lineup, but I just couldn’t do it. Clemson was a bad team last year and it’s time for Brad Brownell to try something new, because being the worst offensive team in the ACC didn’t workout last year.
Both Devin Coleman and Jaron Blossomgame are coming off season-ending injuries, but assuming both are healthy, they give something Clemson desperately needed last year, good size mixed with athletic ability. Coleman and Blossomgame are both athletic, both love to run in transition and both are able to attack the rim.
In the paint, Brownell needs to replace a lot of talent, but he doesn’t really have a lot of options. K.J. McDaniels is the best player on the team, so look for him to slide into the 4-spot. His natural position is small forward, but in reality, he plays like a face-up four. The fact is, he’s not a great shooter from outside, preferring to use his length to get to the rim. As for center, there are no real good options, but Nnoko has size, length and athleticism. He also has a motor and can control the boards. The problem is, he’s still so raw, so don’t expect much in the way of scoring.
G – Rod Hall (JR), 6-1/210
G – Adonis Filer (SO), 6-2/185
G – Damarcus Harrison (JR), 6-4/195
F – Ibrahim Djambo (JR), 6-10/205
Rod Hall started 30 of 31 games last year, but that doesn’t mean he actually deserved to be a starter. He’s a point guard, but he’s struggled to generate actual offense when he ran the point. He has no outside shot, so teams can defend off of him. Sure he could start over Roper at the point, but let’s face it, neither is a great option, but at least Roper can hit an outside shot. If neither works out well, Clemson can always go to Filer. Another point guard, but he tended to make a lot of freshman mistakes last year. He’s a decent shooter, so look for him to steal some minutes off the ball.
Damarcus Harrison is arguable the teams best defender, so that should keep him on the floor for long stretches, but unless he improves his shooting (36% from the floor, 22% from deep), he’s not going to be able to crack the starting lineup, unless injuries pile up again. Inside, Djambo can play some minutes at center. He’s got good length and loves to rebound, but with the ball in his hands, he tends to drift out to the perimeter a little too much.
G – Patrick Rooks (FR), 6-3/175
The Tigers got two freshman guards coming in. Technically, Ajukwa is the more highly touted of the two, but Rooks is the one who can shoot the rock from deep. The Tigers have a lot of issues heading into next season, but one huge problem will be outside shooting. Currently, Roper is the only one who can shoot 40-percent or better from deep. If no one else can hit the outside shot, then teams are just going to collapse on them inside. Rooks is a poor man’s Seth Curry. He’s an accurate three-point shooter, but if a defender can force him to put the ball on the floor, he’s got nothing to offer. I’m not saying Rooks will hit 40-percent of his threes this year, but at the very least, when he’s on the court, defenders won’t be able to hedge too far away from him.
F – Josh Smith (SO), 6-8/245
G – Austin Ajukwa (FR), 6-5/175
Josh Smith could actually see some decent minutes if Brad Brownell decides to stay big when he’s substituting. I personally think he’ll go small. However, after Nnoko and Djambo, Smith is all they got. He’s not tall, but wide and he actually has a couple scoring moves. The problem is he’s not very athletic and leaping isn’t really his thing. Ajukwa is a guard/forward combo, the kind the coaching staff likes to bring in. He’s a good athlete, who likes to mix it up inside. He could be a great scorer one day, but he has no outside shot and if you want to bet he’ll go right every time he drives with the ball, you’d be a rich man.
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