On Tuesday, Duke beat Michigan State in a thrilling game as #1 squared off against #2 in the Champions Classic. The game not only featured a showdown of Hall of Fame coaches in Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo, but also provided much anticipated matchups between several top ranked recruits. This game had it all.
It was the first time fans and scouts could see Marvin Bagley, the number one overall recruit this season and a projected top three NBA draft pick, against top tier talent. It was a test for Michigan State’s returning Sophomores Cassius Winston, Nick Ward, Josh Langford, and of course, Big 10 Preseason Player of the Year, Miles Bridges.
This was an NBA showcase featuring starting lineups with top ranked recruits. Prior to the start of the game, NCAA analysts were highlighting players to watch. Marvin Bagley. Miles Bridges. Grayson Allen. Jaren Jackson. Gary Trent. Wendell Carter. Watch them they said. They weren’t wrong – they all impressed and the game was fantastic from start to finish.
However, it was the name no one had suggested that impacted the game the most, especially after Bagley left the game with an eye injury – Javin DeLaurier. Duke’s 6’10” sophomore big man played 24 minutes of high energy basketball on both ends of the floor. He led all players in the game with a net rating of 47.8 and a plus minus of +22.
DeLaurier’s effect can be seen on film and in the numbers. Without him on the court, Duke’s offense and defense were less effective.
Marvin Bagley was highly effective in his time before leaving the game with an injury and will be a force, both offensively and defensively. Grayson Allen played one of the best games of his career and was clutch down the stretch. It is not meant as a slight to either player’s performance, but DeLaurier’s play can’t go unmentioned – it truly altered the game and arguably the result.
DeLaurier's Eight Plays that Changed the Game:
DeLaurier did an excellent job at protecting the rim on Tuesday from the likes of Bridges, Ward, and Jackson. The first three plays are all plays where he blocked or altered a shot.
On this last play, DeLaurier didn’t record a block, but he quickly dropped down and forced Ward to pump again and change his shot angle allowing Bagley to get the block.
The next three plays are all possesions where DeLaurier flashes his great hands. His feet and hands are always active on defense, but also notice that he is constantly calling out defensive assignments and positioning to his teammates.
In the last two clips, DeLaurier grabs an offensive rebound to keep the possession alive. Note, that in both plays it is a tie game in the 2nd half.
Give credit where credit is due. DeLaurier needs to be recognized as another force for Duke’s frontcourt.