5 bold predictions for Duke basketball's 2021-22 season: How far can the Blue Devils go?
Duke tips off its 2021-22 season on Tuesday night vs. Kentucky at Madison Square Garden.
Expectations are high for the Blue Devils this season — and so is the pressure. This is the final opening night for legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski.
On paper, Duke has one of the most talented rosters in the country. It’s loaded with 5-star freshmen and returning contributors who should show improvement this season.
Here’s five predictions for Duke’s upcoming season:
1. Paolo Banchero will cement himself as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft
There will be talk of Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Memphis Jalen Duren, but Banchero is the best prospect in this class. His combination of size, athleticism, fluidity and skill is exceptionally rare, and he shouldn’t have any trouble showing that off this season for the Blue Devils. Listed at 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, Banchero will be able to shoot, pass and finish at the rim. He’s not a Zion-level prospect, but the closest think Duke has had since he left.
2. Mark Williams will make an All-ACC team
Williams took awhile to adjust to the ACC game last season as a freshman, but he exploded down the stretch. He averaged 16.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per game over his last 6 contests last season. He should be a great fit next to Banchero on both ends of the floor. If Duke is winning at the level it should, expect Williams to receive some recognition.
3. AJ Griffin and Trevor Keels will be starting by the end of the season
AJ Griffin and Trevor Keels are the other 5-star prospects in Duke’s freshman class. Although they’ve been overshadowed a bit by Banchero, both are still capable making a big impact this season. Griffin is a potential top five pick in the NBA Draft if he has a good season and Keels should be a solid three-level scorer. Keels also has familiarity with starting point guard Jeremy Roach — they played on the same high school team.
4. Duke will win the ACC regular season title
The Blue Devils haven’t won the ACC regular season title since 2010 — that changes this year. Duke has the most talented roster in the conference and a coach in Krzyzewski who will be pushing them on a day-to-day basis. The ACC is always a grind, but this team has what it takes to make it through.
5. Duke will make the Final Four
Wouldn’t this be a fitting ending to an iconic career? Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils should have every chance to make it to the Final Four in New Orleans. If they do, it would be their first time there since winning the National Championship in 2015. They have the high-end talent, back court play and experience that’s usually required to make it to that stage – and they just might have destiny on their side, too.