Trevon Duval was a consensus top-10 national recruit out of IMG Academy, either the No. 1 or No. 2 point guard in the 2017 class. He would have been top dog at nearly every NCAA program.
But Duval was fourth or fifth fiddle at Duke. He played alongside the top-ranked player in his class, Marvin Bagley III, and another future NBA lottery pick, Wendell Carter Jr. Duval shared the backcourt with Grayson Allen and Gary Trent Jr., both of whom will be drafted in the first round or early in the second next week.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski signed another loaded recruiting class for next season, meaning Duval faced the possibility of being buried among pro prospects again. Duval decided to stay in the NBA draft, and ESPN rates him as the No. 53 player available.
After his workout with the Hawks on Wednesday, Duval echoed recent comments by Carter, who said Duke’s players would be able to show more of their strengths in the NBA.
“I think he hit it right on the nose with that,” Duval said. “The whole starting five, we all agree. We are all really good players so, playing together, we were not going to be able to show every single thing we can do. Definitely when we get to the next level, we will be able to showcase our skills more.”
There are reasons to think Duval can elevate his game in the pros despite a shaky outside shot.
Duke’s offense went through Bagley and Carter in the post, so Duval didn’t get to play to his strengths by operating with the ball and slashing to the basket. Duval also wasn’t able to fully showcase his athletic ability in Duke’s zone defense, though he still ranked tied for 12th in the ACC in steals percentage according to kenpom.com.
Duval has a good physical profile for his position. At the combine last month he measured 6-foot-2 1/2 inches tall and 191 pounds with an excellent wingspan of 6-8 1/4. Duval is a strong and explosive athlete who was able to get into the lane at Duke, something he said will translate to the NBA.
“I think it’s possible for me,” Duval said. “I don’t think it’s going to be as hard because there is a lot more space n the NBA. Shoot, going from Duke to the NBA it might look a lot easier.”
Duval was a good playmaker at Duke, with an assist percentage that ranked sixth-best in the ACC among players with at least 800 minutes played, according to Sports Reference. But Duval’s poor shooting is the biggest reason he’s not a top prospect in this draft after he was projected as a lottery pick coming out of high school.
Last season Duval made only 31 of 107 3-point attempts (29 percent) and 53 of 89 free-throw tries, ranking near the bottom of the ACC for rotation point guards.
“In a lot of these (NBA) workouts, I think I’ve been shooting the ball well,” Duval said. “That’s one of the main things I’m trying to show all these teams is that I’ve been working on my shot and that it’s gotten a lot better.”
If Duval can improve his shot he could stick in the NBA because of his strength, athletic ability and playmaking ability. He’s likely to be available when and if the Hawks use the No. 34 overall pick.