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  1. #1
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    DBR Podcast Episode #123: The Zion Williamson Report Podcast Episode #1

    The podcast team is excited to gush about Zion for you. Who's going to be at Wallace Wade Stadium next Friday night?!

    Links:

    iTunes
    Google Play
    Soundcloud
    Stitcher

    Time stamps:

    0:00 Thanks to Byrd Campbell
    0:30 Donald welcomes us to the Zion Williamson show
    2:40 Sam was surprised at Zion’s body control and skill. We knew he could dunk, we didn’t know about everything else he brought to the table.
    6:30 Donald points out that watching Zion is so much fun. Even Duke haters can’t hate this guy.
    8:00 Donald want to move on, but Jason freaks out because he wants to talk more about Zion, especially his ridiculous rebounding.
    12:00 Jason talks about RJ Barrett, who he says is the team leader. Jason admires his defensive intensity and his freakish ability to get to the rim.
    17:25 Donald talks about RJ’s fluidity
    19:00 Sam gets us into a conversation about Duke’s PGs and Jason says wait until you see Cam Reddish.
    21:00 We have to talk about the one negative… the frustrating play of Marquis Bolden.
    27:40 Donald leads the conversation about other players by praising Javin DeLaurier.
    29:20 Sam talks about the injuries we are suffering now.
    31:45 Jason and Sam wax on about the emergence of Jack White and we then talk a little about Baker, Vrank, and Goldwire.
    35:55 We spend a minute contemplating Duke’s “Death Lineup” like the Warriors.
    39:20 Byrd Campbell tells us what they think of Zion Williamson.
    39:50 Parting shots – Jason on the 10 Things I Learned Playing For Coach Cut
    42:35 Parting shots – Donald gives a shout out to the Little League World Series and his hometown team.
    43:35 Parting shots – Sam talks about our plans to cover Duke football in coming weeks.
    45:20 Player of the week… the Zion sweep.
    47:40 Goodbye and Duke band.

  2. #2
    Yay, real basketball talk! I appreciate the reminder that all our excitement, analysis, frustrations, etc over last week don't include several players that will figure prominently in the upcoming season.

    Sort of like a restaurant soft opening - gives you a few impressions of what we will look like, but not exactly tipping our hand yet.

    I sure hope football season proves tobe a fun way to while away these intervening months.

  3. #3
    As always, enjoyed the pod and completely agree - it was such a treat to have an August podcast on actual basketball action! A few thoughts about some of these topics...

    I am glad you all talked about the potential of a Duke "death" lineup. This team feels like K's ideal roster almost - a bunch of tall wings, a true PG and some size if he needs it. If Javin weren't the likely team captain, I'd almost predict that Duke finishes the year going small the majority of the time, but I think Javin is too important to this team not to play a majority of the minutes.

    That said, seeing them go small is what I am most excited about this year. I listen to a lot of NBA draft/scouting podcasts and they talk a lot about how at the highest levels (NBA playoffs), the elite teams have the ability to hunt mismatches and play opposing players off the floor due to physical limitations. I've always thought this sounded a lot like the way K prefers to coach... One of the first things I learned as a young Duke fan was that Coach loved to make other teams change to match up with Duke, rather than the other way around. I think this year really has a chance to emphasize that point.

    Additionally, I agree with whomever threw out Jack White's name as "guy #5" in the death lineup. Obviously AOC would bring the shooting, but I agree that Duke needs a steadier defensive presence and a little maturity on the floor. The "switch everything" scheme depends heavily on communication and discipline, so I could see Jack earning himself time over AOC due to his greater experience and (presumably) superior communication.

    Jack also brings someone who for his career collects about 20% of the defensive rebounds when he's on the floor (small sample alert. For context, AOC grabbed 8% last year and Bolden grabbed 18% - both against better competition obviously). So you get another shooter on the floor, you get more size (6'7"), more experience, and elite rebounding for a wing. As a lineup, you run 6'2, 6'7, 6'7, 6'7, 6'8 and you make up for not having a big man by having multiple guys who are very good rebounders for their size/position - don't forget that Tre Jones is the best rebounding PG Duke has had in quite some time.

    Have I beaten the Jack White Death Lineup (new band name?) to death? I wanted to comment briefly on Bolden as well. Kudos to you guys for calling a spade a spade. His performance was rough in Canada. The other bigs did not seem to suffer from the lack of a true PG as much as Bolden did. Javin and Vrankovic both made things happen due to their motor and/or IQ. That said, I think Bolden's game suffered the most from missing Tre Jones. Entry passes were non-existent over these three games and I do wonder if Marques is the type of guy who needs a couple of touches to really get going. That does not absolve him one bit in my mind, but I do have to wonder if Jones' absence hurt him more than others.

    Thanks again for another great episode!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by DukieTiger View Post
    I am glad you all talked about the potential of a Duke "death" lineup. This team feels like K's ideal roster almost - a bunch of tall wings, a true PG and some size if he needs it. If Javin weren't the likely team captain, I'd almost predict that Duke finishes the year going small the majority of the time, but I think Javin is too important to this team not to play a majority of the minutes.

    That said, seeing them go small is what I am most excited about this year. I listen to a lot of NBA draft/scouting podcasts and they talk a lot about how at the highest levels (NBA playoffs), the elite teams have the ability to hunt mismatches and play opposing players off the floor due to physical limitations. I've always thought this sounded a lot like the way K prefers to coach... One of the first things I learned as a young Duke fan was that Coach loved to make other teams change to match up with Duke, rather than the other way around. I think this year really has a chance to emphasize that point.

    Additionally, I agree with whomever threw out Jack White's name as "guy #5" in the death lineup. Obviously AOC would bring the shooting, but I agree that Duke needs a steadier defensive presence and a little maturity on the floor. The "switch everything" scheme depends heavily on communication and discipline, so I could see Jack earning himself time over AOC due to his greater experience and (presumably) superior communication.
    Great additional comments! I now wish we had spent more time talking about the Death Lineup. It happened off the cuff and we had not really prepared for it. I will freely admit that I was not thinking of Jack White being a part of it because I am a huge AOC fan, but it makes a ton of sense given White's better rebounding and physicality, especially if White can shoot almost as well as AOC can.

    I love your comment about hunting mismatches. It takes me back to something I heard K say almost three decades ago when Duke was playing LSU. It was Shaq vs. Laettner and in the pregame folks were asking K about how we would match up with Shaq and contain the beast that he was. K's response was, "I'm not worried about how we match up with them. They should be worried about how they match up with us."

    I agree that this year's team, with Cam and RJ's unusual skill sets and Zion's truly unique physical gifts, may present the best chance yet to "hunt mismatches" and punish other teams for not being flexible.

    -Jason "is it November yet?!?!" Evans
    I don't know what you are doing right now, but if you aren't listening to the DBR Podcast, you're doing it wrong.

  5. #5
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    The Death Lineup depends on a.) Draymond being able to defend the 5, and b.) all five players being able to shoot the three, including two of the all-time best shooters ever. I feel reasonably confident about Zion’s ability to defend most college centers, but being able to stretch the floor on the other end will be the big question. I also had pictured Alex in such a lineup, but Jack makes a lot of sense too. He can play the Andre Iguedola role of doing a bit of everything and not needing the ball but being capable of knocking down open shots.

    I love Jason’s point about Zion making Duke “cool” again. Even people who hate Duke have to begrudgingly admit that they like watching him. The last player I can remember who brought that sort of mystique was Elton Brand, who was just a different type of player than Duke was known for having at the time.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by UrinalCake View Post

    I love Jason’s point about Zion making Duke “cool” again. Even people who hate Duke have to begrudgingly admit that they like watching him. The last player I can remember who brought that sort of mystique was Elton Brand, who was just a different type of player than Duke was known for having at the time.
    The last player I remember that non-Duke fans begrudgingly admitting like was MBIII. And before that Jayson Tatum. And before that Justise Winslow, champion of flying Tar Hell chest stomps.

    But yeah, Elton was the original “Preppies No More” player. The black unis didn’t hurt.

  7. #7
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    I would think Javin could work well in a death lineup because I am hoping he will provide the Lance Thomas/ Amile defensive versatility, be able to protect the rim and hit the odd 3 (crossing my fingers.)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by NSDukeFan View Post
    I would think Javin could work well in a death lineup because I am hoping he will provide the Lance Thomas/ Amile defensive versatility, be able to protect the rim and hit the odd 3 (crossing my fingers.)
    Which Javin are you watching? I haven't seen him take a jump shot in over 2 years

    You really need 5 playmakers and/or shooters for the "death" lineup to be the death lineup. Javin and the 4 freshmen is a fine lineup, but it is merely a conventional lineup, not a death lineup. But I do think that will be the starting lineup at some point, unless Marques really turns it around and re-establishes himself as the starting center.
    Last edited by kAzE; 08-23-2018 at 12:05 PM.

  9. #9
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    I thought I saw Javin take a 3 on the Canada tour, which made me think he has been working on it. I was also thinking of a defensive lineup where most everyone can switch, much like the Warriors.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by NSDukeFan View Post
    I thought I saw Javin take a 3 on the Canada tour, which made me think he has been working on it. I was also thinking of a defensive lineup where most everyone can switch.
    Well, my point is, even if he does hit a couple of 3s, opponents still aren't going to guard him out there. They will gladly let Javin take as many wide open 3s as they want, and have his man camp in the paint. The foundation of the "death" lineup is that all 5 players on the floor must be accounted for on the perimeter, in order to create the spacing necessary to do what it wants to do.

  11. #11
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    Doesn’t the Death lineup have something to do with the defensive versatility of the unit? If Javin were to hit some of those threes and/or set screens for his teammates, would his defender still just camp in the key?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by NSDukeFan View Post
    Doesn’t the Death lineup have something to do with the defensive versatility of the unit? If Javin were to hit some of those threes and/or set screens for his teammates, would his defender still just camp in the key?
    Well, the reason Golden State's death lineup works is because they aren't giving up as much defensively as other teams would by going small. First off, Draymond Green is an ELITE paint presence and rim protector, so you really don't lose much in the way of interior defense when he shifts over to playing center. Zion would be the Draymond in this analogy. Second, Andre Iguodala is an incredibly versatile defender who can guard up to 3 or 4 positions. Klay is not far behind Iggy as a perimeter defender, and KD (originally Harrison Barnes) is also a very good defender and rim protector.

    The "Death" lineup isn't really about defense, though. You play the death lineup to open up the paint and create bad mismatches on offense, and hope that your undersized lineup can still hold their own on D. If defense was your primary concern, then you aren't playing the death lineup at all. The primary objective is to create an un-guardable offensive lineup. The reason Golden State can do it is because Draymond is an insanely good play maker who can also play center at a high level on defense. He's the key to the entire thing. Zion looks to be someone who can emulate that on the college level.

    Javin is more of a conventional forward, who isn't a threat outside the paint, so he would be more like the Kevon Looney or Jordan Bell on the roster than a Draymond.
    Last edited by kAzE; 08-23-2018 at 12:57 PM.

  13. #13
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    I largely agree with kAzE about Javin not really fitting with a Warriors-light death lineup because of his limited perimeter skills. He did take 8 threes last year, but only hit 1 of them. It is possible he has improved his outside shooting, but I'm far from convinced at this point.

    On the other hand, Zion, RJ, Cam, Tre, and either AOC or Seven Nation Army presents us with 5 legit perimeter threats who can also do a job on the boards and guard whoever they get switched onto (aside from the PG sticking with the PG for the most part).

    -Jason "credit where credit is due -- Donald got us started on the 'Zion makes Duke cool' discussion... it is a really interesting development for the team and the program" Evans
    I don't know what you are doing right now, but if you aren't listening to the DBR Podcast, you're doing it wrong.

  14. #14
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    Perhaps a better NBA analogy would be the Boston Celtics from last season. With Tatum, Brown and Morris they had three versatile wings who could switch everything. Rozier/Smart at the point could even hold their own if switched onto a bigger player. Really balanced offense. They had several good shooters, but no great shooters. They did have Horford as a versatile 5 who could protect the rim and step out and shoot, which we do not. But I think a lot of our game planning will resemble theirs moreso than the Warriors.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonEvans View Post
    I largely agree with kAzE about Javin not really fitting with a Warriors-light death lineup because of his limited perimeter skills. He did take 8 threes last year, but only hit 1 of them. It is possible he has improved his outside shooting, but I'm far from convinced at this point.

    On the other hand, Zion, RJ, Cam, Tre, and either AOC or Seven Nation Army presents us with 5 legit perimeter threats who can also do a job on the boards and guard whoever they get switched onto (aside from the PG sticking with the PG for the most part).

    -Jason "credit where credit is due -- Donald got us started on the 'Zion makes Duke cool' discussion... it is a really interesting development for the team and the program" Evans
    I see what you did there

    Not a bad nickname. Did you come up with that?

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by cato View Post
    The last player I remember that non-Duke fans begrudgingly admitting like was MBIII. And before that Jayson Tatum. And before that Justise Winslow, champion of flying Tar Hell chest stomps.

    But yeah, Elton was the original “Preppies No More” player. The black unis didn’t hurt.
    Probably the only Duke player to be nationally popular (among non Duke fans) was Grant Hill. Ironically, since you mention "preppies no more" - is that Grant Hill was really the only Duke player off of 91-92 who was preppie...as Brian Davis said, even Laettner was "more street" than some of the Michigan Fab Five guys.

    I thought the "I Hate Christian Laettner" special brought this home very well.

    And yes, I think Zion, with his dunking, and his smile, is going to turn some haters into, well, not haters.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by HereBeforeCoachK View Post
    Probably the only Duke player to be nationally popular (among non Duke fans) was Grant Hill. Ironically, since you mention "preppies no more" - is that Grant Hill was really the only Duke player off of 91-92 who was preppie...as Brian Davis said, even Laettner was "more street" than some of the Michigan Fab Five guys.

    I thought the "I Hate Christian Laettner" special brought this home very well.

    And yes, I think Zion, with his dunking, and his smile, is going to turn some haters into, well, not haters.
    I love Grant Hill, but Elton brought the nasty.

    6DE74594-9864-4A51-8C08-BD54E5DCA93B.jpg
    Carolina delenda est

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by HereBeforeCoachK View Post
    Probably the only Duke player to be nationally popular (among non Duke fans) was Grant Hill.

    [snip]

    And yes, I think Zion, with his dunking, and his smile, is going to turn some haters into, well, not haters.
    IIRC - and there's a first time for everything - while popular is tough metric to nail down, I think Kyrie and Jabari could both be called nationally popular among non-Duke fans leading up to and during their time at Duke.

    I will be curious to see if Zion's popularity persists if/when he starts demolishing in-season opponents. He does not seem to have the personality of one who relishes the destruction, but such may be ascribed to him in the effort to vilify a winner that is commonplace in sports, especially with regards to Duke.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by HereBeforeCoachK View Post
    Probably the only Duke player to be nationally popular (among non Duke fans) was Grant Hill. Ironically, since you mention "preppies no more" - is that Grant Hill was really the only Duke player off of 91-92 who was preppie...as Brian Davis said, even Laettner was "more street" than some of the Michigan Fab Five guys.

    I thought the "I Hate Christian Laettner" special brought this home very well.

    And yes, I think Zion, with his dunking, and his smile, is going to turn some haters into, well, not haters.
    I agree with you - Zion seems to be one of those transcendent players that make people tune in. I would agree that Kyrie had the potential to turn the attitude towards Duke basketball, but his well-chronicled short career minimized that.

    As for Bagley/Parker/Okafor and their effect - similar, yet lesser. Those guys all had amazing talent and were fun to watch, but I don't remember national media gushing over August highlight reels like they are with Zion.

    Zion will earn a TON of attention this year. I hope that he and the Duke program translate that into a boatload of wins.
    Repartee is something we think of twenty-four hours too late.

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  20. #20
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    Jason's Closing Point

    I just read the blog and would echo Jason's recommendation to read "10 Things I Learned Playing For Coach Cut." I particularly enjoyed Rob's expounding on number 7.

    Also, for all the discussion of shooting in Canada, both on the podcast and in the threads, the deeper line and different ball were generally not mentioned. For elite shooters, it likely does not matter too much, but particularly for younger players, who are just adjusting to the college line and likely college ball, it could. It might be surprising that R.J., who spent the summer with the Canadian team and is very experienced internationally, would have an adjustment, but even there it may be that he was not called to shoot threes too much. Anyway, in a small sample, under different conditions, I would not put too much weight on shooting results either positively or negatively. Although, it would be great if Zion shoots better even better at the college line!

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