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The Key To Duke’s Season Is Likely Tre Jones

He’s the guy who knows who should get the ball and when and where.

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High School Basketball: McDonalds High School All American Games
Mar 28, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; McDonalds All-American West guard Tre Jones (0) celebrates a victory against the East in the McDonalds High School All American Game at Philips Arena. 
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Is Tre Jones the most important player on this year’s Duke team?

We’d agree with this contention and more to the point, so do his fellow freshmen who realize that he needs to be really good for the team to be.

Look at it this way. Consider Duke’s truly great teams: 1986, 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010 and 2015.

Every one of them had a superb point guard: Tommy Amaker in ‘86, Bobby Hurley in 1991-92, Jason Williams in 2001, Jon Scheyer in 2010 and Tre’s brother Tyus in 2015.

You could argue that any team that wants to contend for the national championship needs a great point guard and that’s hard to argue with.

However, in Mike Krzyzewski’s system, the point guard has always been the key in a special way. Coach K was way ahead of the curve when it came to positionless basketball. He has long had his players introduced without a position and lets players start from their strengths and build on those.

That’s why you see a Robert Brickey in the post and Christian Laettner shooting threes. That’s why Scheyer moved to point guard in 2010 and why Coach K told Shane Battier to “just run around and make things happen.”

So we do agree that Jones is the key and he’ll likely start every game this year. What we’re watching is how Krzyzewski plays with the pieces around him. The lineup he is going with to start the season - Jones, RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish and Javin DeLaurier - is really talented.

As you may know though, one of his main goals is to establish roles and, for lack of a better phrase, a heirarchy of responsibilities. One year he stopped practice and told the assembled that there was a great role for someone who was willing to do the dirty work.

So as things unfold, look at things that don’t get done well. It might be outside shooting or rebounding or defense or who knows what. That would probably include things that elude most of us who don’t have a coaches insight.

That’s what to keep an eye on though. And unless something goes wrong, Jones will run the show from Day One to the last play of the season. As Reddish said before he came to Duke, Jones is going drive the car. From here it looks like a fun ride.

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