Is Duke Point Guard U?
A case can be made.
It’s not clear if Mike Krzyzewski makes great point guards or great point guards help make Mike Krzyzewski great. But there’s no doubt that Krzyzewski has had more than his share of great college point guards.
Bobby Hurley is the NCAA career assists record holder. Kyrie Irving was the first pick in the 2011 NBA draft and the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year. Jason Williams was the consensus 2002 national player of the year and the second pick in the 2002 draft. Nolan Smith was 2011 ACC Player of the Year, Tre Jones the 2020 ACC Player of the Year. Hurley (1992) and Tyus Jones (2015) were Final Four MOPs. Tommy Amaker (1987) and Steve Wojciechowski (1998) were national defensive players of the year. Over a dozen former K-era Duke point guards have played in the NBA, depending on how we define point guards. Eight have become college head coaches, with one or two more head-coaches in waiting. Quin Snyder is an NBA head coach.
And they’ve also helped Duke win games and championships. Duke’s Final Four starting point guards in the K era have been Amaker, Snyder, Hurley, Jeff Capel, William Avery, Williams, Chris Duhon, Jon Scheyer, and Tyus Jones.
Not a dud among them. Snyder is the only one who never made All-ACC and he averaged almost six assists per game in 1988 and 1989. All five of Duke’s NCAA title teams had an All-ACC point guard, with Williams in 2001 and Scheyer in 2010 making all the All-America teams.
Which brings us to 2020-’21. Does Duke have a point guard at that level?
There are several candidates.
Jordan Goldwire brings experience. Goldwire came into Duke in a class that also included Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter, Gary Trent, Trevon Duval, Alex O’Connell and Jordan Tucker.
They’re all gone. Except Goldwire.
Jordan Goldwire has had a curious career arc. His six classmates were all ranked in the national top-70. Goldwire wasn’t in the same zip code. He looked like he was heading for Eastern Kentucky before Duke swooped in late.
Goldwire looked like a practice player, an Andre Buckner or an Antonio Vrankovic. He played 169 minutes as a freshman, mostly mop-up minutes. He had 10 DNPs. But he did show some defensive ability and that was enough to get him on the court more and more as a sophomore. Goldwire’s defensive contributions helped key Duke’s epic comeback at Louisville.
But he still couldn’t shoot a lick. He entered his junior year having shot 29 percent from the field, 18 percent on 3s, 60 percent from the line.
A one-trick pony?
I’ve talked in other articles about sweat equity and by all accounts Goldwire lived in the gym, refining his shooting stroke and working and working and working some more.
He didn’t come back as J.J. Redick. But he also didn’t come back as as the Jordan Goldwire who missed his first 15 3-pointers in the 2018-’19 season. Goldwire hit all three of his 3-pointers in a 70-65 win over Florida State, scored 10 points in a big road win against Virginia Tech. His career high coming into his junior year was five points. He had five double-figure scoring games as a junior, including 13 points against Pittsburgh and FSU.
Goldwire ended the season shooting 48.7 percent from the field, 35.4 on 3s.
But he did most of this playing off the ball. Tre Jones was the point guard. Goldwire did have 70 assists to 27 turnovers, which is promising, to say the least. In fact Goldwire had 47 steals, almost twice as many steals as he had turnovers.
Goldwire will certainly be a 2021 co-captain, perhaps the only captain.
Does that add up to starting point guard for a national title contender? It would be nice to have a senior starting at the point. Duke hasn’t had one since Smith in 2011 and that only after Irving went down with a toe injury. Does Goldwire have more improvement in him? Can he make the jump from complementary player to the kind of point guard we’ve traditionally seen at Duke?
Mike Krzyzewski certainly has a Plan B.