Anyway, that's a long way of saying, the big question isn't whether they've done all the can at the college level, but will they improve more here or in the NBA. And I sure wish I had time to study that, because I'm not sure their is an obvious answer.
I made my peace a long time ago with the idea that the college and NBA games are different from one another, and that success in college (or lack thereof) doesn't always translate to similar results at the next level. I enjoy both the college and NBA games but they're completely different animals.
I feel part of the woes of our team (yea, I know I didn't play on it, I just use those terms and am sorry if I offended anyone) were a decided lack of leadership. Physically Austin might be able to handle the NBA grind (though I think his body could stand getting stronger), but I don't think he is mentally mature enough--in terms of being a leader or really even how to defer properly--to be a good NBA player. He might grow into it. Kobe Bryant sure got better as a leader as time went on, but my oh my, if Coach K had him at Duke for 2 years I think he would have made a much better teammate and effective leader earlier in his career.
Mason, as much as it pains me to say this because I want him back, I don't feel has much to gain by staying. At least he seems to have learned to keep the ball over his head, something Miles never seemed to fully grasp the importance of. There is one intangible and that is Marshall. Something tells me that Mason and Marshall really want to play at Duke together. I don't know the Plumlee's financial situation. They might need the money and so going now makes a lot of sense. One more year might help Mason's leadership skills too, but if he didn't learn those in three years I don't think he will in four. I can't wait to see Marshall on the floor, something tells me he has more leadership skills than his two older brothers.
If he comes back, I would expect his assist numbers to go up next season. He will have more familiarity with the rest of the team and if MP2 comes back, he should have a great interior target.
Speaking of MP2, one thing to really think about is the potential implications of his late season improvements in free throw shooting. If he can can continue to improve from the line, that would drastically help his game in a number of ways. A) It would improve his scoring average because he wouldn't be missing as many foul shots B) he can be more aggressive because he can actually try to draw the foul instead of trying to avoid it and C) and maybe more importantly, confidence in from the line should bolster confidence in the 12-18' jumper that is completely missing from his game. If he can his the mid range shot (like MP1) that makes guarding him much more difficult. It also decreases the pressure of getting him the ball close to the basket opening up his offensive game considerably. This is the area where a noticeable improvement could drastically improve his draft position.
I very much hope Austin returns to Duke and hope and expect he would continue to improve on the fabulous season he just had. If he decides to declare for the draft, I expect he will be another great ambassador for Duke basketball in the NBA and will become a very good player with a long career. I think either decision will be a good one.
I also think Mason has two good choices and will make a good decision whichever one he chooses. One skill that translates well from college to the NBA is rebounding and Mason certainly does that well. He runs the floor well, has continued to improve defensively, blocks some shots and showed great improvement as a post up threat this year. I certainly hope he returns to Duke and has a monster all-ACC senior season. If he chooses to start his career next year, I believe he also has the potential to have a long, successful NBA career. I expect it may take him a bit more time to develop a role than it would for Austin, but expect he will be a solid player. I hope he gets to compete against his older brother in the NBA for many years.
“Those two kids, they’re champions,” Krzyzewski said of his senior leaders. “They’re trying to teach the other kids how to become that, and it’s a long road to become that.”
I suspect that Beal did not exactly have to carry as much of the load as Austin this year, although both led their teams in minutes. Boynton and Irving Walker had the ball in their hands more, whereas Austin became more of a playmaker as the season went on.
Also, Duke had a substantially better regular season with Austin as its #1 option than UF did with Beal as its #2 option. Hmmmm.
It's a gamble that these players make - leave too early and you risk riding the bench and never getting a chance to prove yourself. Leave too late and you could waste a year of income, or your stock could slip. I don't think Austin has much to lose by staying, except for the fact that this year's class is weak on point guards. But he has a lot that he could improve. In Mason's case though, I think he'd be better off going as he has more to lose than gain by staying (unfortunately for us).
In the search field you can type in Beal's name. Hollinger does some stuff on ESPN as well but it is a royal PITA to find. Austin definitely had a higher usage rate than Beal but that just makes Beal's stats look better.
I agree with you about Duke's regular season but unfortunately we're home while FL is still playing. I can't speak for you but I'd rather have a worse regular season and still be in the tourney.
I don't think it's a matter of Austin being a selfish player. I doubt that he's a selfish person or player. I just don't think he has great basketball awareness. Whether by nature or nurture, he's programmed as a scorer, focused on getting points. He's definitely improved as a passer but it probably will never be second nature for him to look for his teammates when he has the ball in his hands. This is very different than being a selfish, me-first kind of teammate. I bet Austin would try to do anything that the coaches asked him to do.
I'd also like to add that I don't think Josh or Gerald was a selfish player, either. There may have been attitude problems with Josh, but he wasn't selfish enough in terms of scoring. He was much better suited to being the number 3 or 4 option and facilitating others (he was a great passer at Duke). That team needed him to be a better scorer. Gerald, on the other hand, did have a bit of tunnel vision when he drove (he still does at the NBA level). However, he was always willing to do the dirty work on defense and was a great defensive player for Duke and is emerging as one of the best defensive SG in the NBA. Selfish players who have a me-first attitude don't put forth the effort on defense and rebounding that Gerald did.
Agreed wholeheartedly, however, about Austin needing to really improve his court vision. With a split second and slither of an opening, the kid is Kevin Johnson with the ball in his hands. Absolutely indefensible. However, I think because he is so crafty and good at getting in the vicinity of the rim on dribble penetration, Austin almost always believes he can, or should, utilize that skill and get two points out of it, every time, no matter what.
There are a couple of things wrong with that thought process. For starters, it often forces Austin to take incredibly difficult, body-twisting shots that, while perhaps more times than not makeable for him, are generally just terrible shots. Many times this wouldn't matter, because Austin is pretty good at drawing contact once deep inside the key, but it certainly matters when your free-throw shooting is somewhere between shocking and caravan accident. Those are a lot of wasted possessions. Austin, and the ball movement of the team (which this season was the worst I have seen it at Duke in 15 years), would be much better suited if he learned to choose his spots more carefully and used that defense-magnetizing dribble-drive to create open jump shots and backside slashing opportunities for his teammates. Rarely do I remember Austin passing out of the middle of the key. He's already good as is. If he were ever to develop eyes, he'd be lethal.
The coaches have to be addressing this, right?
I would have to believe so. FWIW, if Austin stays, I would not be at all surprised to see the staff give serious consideration to (or at least experiment with) shifting him to the point, and pushing Austin to use his quickness and penetrating ability in exactly the fashion you describe. If successful, our offense could improve dramatically, even without Mason. Austin's NBA potential would surely increase, too, if he were viewed as having legit PG skills.
I think Austin, should he stay, will continue to play off the ball and on the wing. I could see him initiating the offense a fair amount once we get into some of our half-court sets. Because we have three other guards smaller than Austin who can all play the point, I do not see Austin moving over to the 1.
FWIW, Chad Ford's first pass at an NBA mock draft has Austin going to Houston at number 21 and Mason going to OKC at number 29. If that's an accurate indicator of the consensus of NBA front office opinion, I'd bet they both come back.