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Duke NBA Draft Preview: Matthew Hurt

Duke’s sweet shooting forward needs to expand his skill set to carve a serious niche in the NBA

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Duke Louisville
Mar 10, 2021; Greensboro, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Matthew Hurt (21) shoots over Louisville Cardinals guard David Johnson (13) during the first half in the second round of the 2021 ACC tournament at Greensboro Coliseum. 
Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson underachieved during his only season at Duke, at least compared to preseason projections and current possible NBA lottery status. The same cannot be said of Matthew Hurt, who was not named to the preseason All-ACC team but ended up leading the ACC at 18.4 points per game. Hurt made 44.4 percent of his 3-pointers. That’s impressive for anyone but especially so for someone who’s 6-9.

So, why isn’t Hurt in the lottery discussion?

“The thing about Matthew,” Ekstrand says “is that teams project him as just a shooter at the NBA level. Despite the fact that he’s pretty tall, they don’t really feel like he can help them on the boards. They don’t feel like he’s a strong defender, not bad, just average. If you’re that height and you’re not a plus rebounder and you’re not really a playmaker, you’re mostly just a guy who’s going to catch and shoot it—I mean that’s a good thing to be, if you can make a lot of shots—the question is, if that’s all you can do, then your value is limited because you’re sort of a one-trick pony.”

Then again, if you’re limited to one trick, then elite shooting is a pretty good trick to have. Miami Heat forward Duncan Robinson frequently has been cited as a best-case scenario for Hurt but Ekstrand brings up another name.

“The one thing I always think of when it comes to guys like this is Kyle Korver, a guy who went in the 50s [51st] and the guy just retired. He played 16 years or whatever in the NBA. Nobody every accused Korver of being a great passer, rebounder or anything else. But he was a great shooter. The thing about a guy like Hurt is he’s the kind of perimeter player who’s going to be guarded by a lot of shorter perimeter players. The feeling among NBA teams is you’re going to try to match him up with a 6-6, 6-7 guy on the perimeter. Well, if he’s shooting the ball well, he’s just going to shoot over him. I’m not saying he’s going to play 16 years like Kyle Korver but there are guys like him who come in with that one NBA skill and survive a very long time and he might be one of those guys.”

Ekstrand says fit will be the key for Hurt.

“It doesn’t matter where he’s drafted or even if he’s drafted. It’s more a question of does he go to a team that needs what he provides.”

Vecenie projects Hurt as the final pick of the second round, to Indiana.