If you don’t already know, starting point guard for the Miami Hurricanes Shane Larkin has declared for the NBA. The son of MLB Hall of Famer Barry Larkin is projected as a mid-to-late first rounder or early second rounder. With his combination of tremendous speed, incredible court vision, and lights-out jump shot, Larkin is going to be a much-needed asset for some NBA team. The question still remains though of where the former ACC Player of the Year will end up. Let’s analyze which NBA teams could land Larkin based on their needs and position in the draft.
New York Knicks, Pick Number 24
The Knicks thought that they had their point guard problem solved with the addition of Raymond Felton. However, if you’ve followed the Knicks the last couple of years, you know that Felton’s play has been inconsistent at best and that he has been plagued by injuries. The Knicks added Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni to add depth to the point guard position, but both players are slow and have trouble creating their own shot, forcing Carmelo Anthony in numerous isolation situations. Larkin would add some much needed speed to a slow and injury-prone backcourt. He fits well into the Knicks’ current system under Mike Woodson because of his quickness and ability to hit the long-range jumper. Also, being the defensive minded coach that he is, Mike Woodson would not mind adding the second best defender in the ACC alongside of lockdown perimeter defender Iman Shumpert. Don’t be surprised if Larkin is playing at Madison Square next season if he drops this far in the draft.
Utah Jazz, Picks Number 14 and 21
With the solid frontcourt of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, the Utah Jazz barely missed the NBA Playoffs this past season. The Jazz struggled at the point guard position all season, mainly using Randy Foye and Moe Williams, both of whom are better playing the two-guard. The Jazz have no true point guards signed on their roster for next season. Larkin has a great chance to excel in Salt Lake City because the roster has a similar make up to his Miami Hurricanes team of a year ago. The combination of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Derrick Favors is similar to the trio that Larkin had in Miami in the form of Reggie Johnson, Julian Gamble, and Kenny Kadji. Gordon Hayward, Jeremy Evans, and Moe Williams (provided that he resigns) resemble Larkin’s wing players, Durand Scott, Rion Brown, and Trey McKinney Jones. The Jazz will probably look to add two guards with their two first round picks and it is highly probable that Larkin could be one of them.
San Antonio Spurs, Pick Number 28
Everyone knows that the San Antonio Spurs have an All-Star starting point guard in Tony Parker. However, the Spurs have a clear deficit at the back-up point guard position, and it was exposed this past season with Parker’s injury. The Spurs mainly used players such as Nando de Colo, Gary Neal, and Manu Ginobili to run the point during Parker’s absence, all of whom are at their best playing off the ball. Greg Popovich could use a player like Larkin to relieve Parker from playing heavy minutes. Nothing could be better for Larkin than to play for the Spurs because of Pop’s unmatched ability to highlight the strengths of his players. Larkin also fits in well into the Spurs’ system because of his focus on defense and his ability to shoot the three. Although Larkin may not be happy being a back up initially, he has plenty of time to learn and grow under the guidance of Tony Parker and could eventually take over the ropes as the floor general for the Spurs.
I only focused on the Jazz, Knicks, and Spurs because they have an apparent need for a point-guard and are optimally placed in the draft to take Larkin. Wherever Larkin ends up, there’s no doubt that he is going to be a positive contributor for his team in one-way or another.
Winning at Cameron Indoor is always a near-impossible task considering the Blue Devils had won 92 of their previous 97 home games prior to Saturday night. The Blue Devils were especially motivated for the Hurricanes this time around, as the 27-point shellacking they experienced at the Bank United Center earlier in the year was fresh on their minds. Despite the hostility they knew they were about to face in Durham, the Canes went into the game confident in their own ability as one of Duke’s previous five home losses had come at the hands of this very same Canes team last season. Sports analysts everywhere hyped this game as easily the biggest in the ACC and arguably the biggest in all of college basketball thus far. This game featured another prominent storyline prior to tipoff: the return of Ryan Kelly. Most people predicted that Kelly would play ten to fifteen minutes at the most and would have a minimal impact on the outcome.
As it turned out, Kelly torched Miami for 36 points as he led the Blue Devils to a 79-76 win over the Miami Hurricanes. The Canes had no answer for Kelly’s outside shooting as he alone hit seven of the Blue Devils’ eleven three pointers compared to six threes combined for Miami. Despite Kelly’s historic night, the Canes were able to stay in the game by exploiting Duke’s poor penetration defense. Shane Larkin led the way for the Canes with twenty-five points and four assists followed by Kenny Kadji’s seventeen points and ten rebounds. The difference in the game last year for the Canes was Reggie Johnson’s impact in the paint. He dominated Duke inside for twenty-seven points. This time around, Mason Plumlee and the rest of the Blue Devils held Johnson scoreless, as he missed all five of his shot attempts and failed to force Duke to double-team him down low. The two teams remained within striking distance of each other for most of the night before Duke finally got the first double-digit lead for either team after Quinn Cook’s three pointer with 1:56 left. The Canes rallied back, and had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer before Rion Brown’s three-pointer rattled out.
The Canes have plenty of positives to take away from the game despite the loss. The Canes being able to stay in the game shows that the win earlier in the year was no fluke. The Canes are able to match up well with the Blue Devils and have a legitimate chance to beat them in the ACC tournament if the two teams meet again. Once again, Miami shut down Seth Curry by holding him to seven points on two of eight shooting. In fact, if it were not for Ryan Kelly, the Canes would have handily beat Duke again. Of course, the Blue Devils will have Kelly at their disposal the rest of the season but it is highly unlikely that he will score 36 points again on ten of fourteen shooting from the field. Jim Larranaga will have his defense prepared next time around to better handle Kelly’s perimeter play. Shane Larkin had his way with the Blue Devils again, and Duke could not stop the Canes from penetrating and getting to the basket. The Canes also had a rare poor shooting night from the three-point line.
With the Canes already having clinched the one-seed in the ACC and with limited competition in the ACC this season, it is highly probable that these two teams meet again in the ACC Championship game in Greensboro. This time, it will be the Canes who look for revenge.