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Many Minute Men

Players who Mike Krzyzewski did NOT want to take off the floor

North Carolina Kenny Smith...
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 18: College Basketball: North Carolina Kenny Smith (30) in action vs Duke Johnny Dawkins (24) and Tommy Amaker (4), Chapel Hill, NC 1/18/1986 
SetNumber: X32590

Mike Krzyzewski usually relies on a relatively modest core group of players, particularly as a season winds down. Yet only twice, in 1984 and 2010, has more than one member of the same Duke squad averaged at least 35 minutes per game.

Ten of Coach K’s two-dozen 35-minute players were voted first team All-ACC the same season they accumulated so heavy a dose of playing time. Most were guards.

The ’84 team, reliant on a backcourt of starters Johnny Dawkins and Tommy Amaker, put Coach K’s program on the national basketball map. Going 24-10 the Devils ended a run of consecutive losing seasons and earned the first of 34 NCAA appearances under Krzyzewski.

Dawkins is one of two Krzyzewski-era Blue Devils to enjoy three seasons with 35-plus minutes per game along with under-appreciated Chris Duhon in the early 2000s. No one has gotten more consistent doses of opportunity at Duke.

Dawkins, a four-time all-ACC selection, went on to be the No. 10 pick in the 1986 NBA draft and played in the league for nine years. Duhon, the 2001 ACC rookie of the year, was a second-round NBA draft choice in 2004, the 38th pick overall. He also played in the NBA for nine years.

Amaker and a pair of 21st-century, point-producing guards, JJ Redick and Grayson Allen, each averaged at least 35 minutes.

Probably the most stable Duke unit, with minimal personnel shifts, won the 2010 NCAA championship led by a trio of 35-plus-minute performers — current assistant coaches Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith, both guards, and forward Kyle Singler.

Scheyer, next year’s putative head coach, was among nine seniors who got the heaviest doses of playing time under Krzyzewski.

Singler and Smith were among six juniors similarly invested with the coach’s confidence.

Six sophomores were likewise privileged over the years.

So were three freshmen, a strikingly small selection given the realities of the one-and-done era and the quality of many Duke recruits, including seven of the last 10 ACC rookies of the year.

Amaker and Dawkins played when K’s program was gaining traction in the mid-80s, long before jumps to the pros by underclassmen became common. RJ Barrett in 2019 was the sole recent 35-minute exception. His playing time remained generous as he picked up the scoring slack with Zion Williamson, the ’19 ACC rookie of the year, sneaker-sidelined for an extended period as their sole Duke season wound down.

Most Utilized Duke Players Under Mike Krzyzewski,1981-2021
(Minimum 35 Minute Per-Game Average Per Season)
MPG Player Season Class Min-Games
38.11 Johnny Dawkins 1984 Sophomore 1306-34
37.33 Chip Engelland 1982 Junior 1008-27
37.30 JJ Redick* 2005 Junior 1231-33
37.11 JJ Redick* 2006 Senior 1336-36
36.75 Jon Scheyer* 2010 Senior 1470-40
36.58 Grayson Allen* 2016 Sophomore 1317-36
36.32 Tommy Amaker 1984 Freshman 1235-34
36.03 Johnny Dawkins* 1985 Junior 1117-31
36.00 Chris Duhon 2003 Junior 1188-33
35.90 Kyle Singler* 2010 Junior 1436-40
35.79 Quinn Cook 2015 Senior 1396-39
35.79 Johnny Dawkins 1983 Freshman 1002-28
35.68 Grant Hill* 1994 Senior 1213-34
35.65 Grayson Allen 2018 Senior 1319-37
35.61 Tommy Amaker 1987 Senior 1175-33
35.56 Bobby Hurley 1993 Senior 1138-32
35.51 Luke Kennard* 2017 Sophomore 1314-37
35.50 Nolan Smith 2010 Junior 1349-38
35.44 Tre Jones 2020 Sophomore 1028-29
35.43 Chris Duhon* 2004 Senior 1311-37
35.29 RJ Barrett* 2019 Freshman 1341-38
35.27 Josh McRoberts 2007 Sophomore 1164-33
35.19 Cherokee Parks 1995 Senior 1091-31
35.11 Chris Duhon 2002 Sophomore 1229-35
* First team All-ACC same season.