The Duke Blue Devils are set for their first full game (technically) without star freshman Zion Williamson. Although Williamson’s knee injury came just over 30 seconds into the team’s game against the North Carolina Tar Heels, they will face the Syracuse Orange Saturday without the talented forward.
Duke has a few routes they can go to fill the void left by Williamson’s absence, but they were unable to bounce back from losing their star in that game, falling 88-72. With Zion now set to miss at least one game, we’re going to take a look at the latest on his injury timeline as well as the team’s projected starting lineup and roster without him.
It’ll be interesting to see what route head coach Mike Krzyzewski opts to go with the lineup, as there are a few names who could step into the starting five. First, let’s talk Williamson and the latest on his knee injury.
Positive Outlook for Zion Williamson’s Injury Timeline
After the injury occurred on a fluke play when the 18-year-old standout’s foot burst fully through his shoe, he remained on the ground holding his knee for a short period after. Williamson proceeded to walk to the bench after the play and it looked briefly as if the team was getting him a new shoe. Eventually, he proceeded to go back to the locker room and remained there.
The Duke forward was ruled out for the remainder of the game, and afterward, Coach K stated that Zion’s knee was “stable” and that it was a mild knee sprain. He apparently still needed an MRI, but the team’s official Twitter revealed the following day that it was indeed a Grade 1 knee sprain and that Williamson would be day-to-day.
It’s likely the team will play it safe with the 6-foot-7 star and make sure he’s 100 percent before returning to action. With the ACC and NCAA Tournaments coming up around the corner, both sides would be wise to make sure Williamson is completely healthy before even considering a return.
There has been no talk from the team or the expected No. 1 pick about potentially shutting it down until the NBA draft, although many believe he should do just that.
Duke’s Roster & Projected Starting Lineup Without Zion Williamson
*Notates expected starter
F: R.J. Barrett*
F: Cam Reddish*, Jack White
F/C: Javin DeLaurier*, Marques Bolden
G: Alex O’Connell*
G: Tre Jones*, Jordan Goldwire
Duke runs an incredibly short bench and even after Williamson left the game, only four players saw action from the second unit, and one was largely due to the deficit the team faced. The interesting question entering the day was whether Jack White or Javin DeLaurier would get the starting nod.
Along with the decision to start DeLaurier, a surprising move was made to send Marques Bolden to the bench and give Alex O’Connell his first start of the year. Bolden and DeLaurier don’t share the floor often, so it makes sense to some extent.
Based on the lineups we’ve seen frequently from Duke this season, it was projected that White would draw the start. It’s also worth noting that DeLaurier took a big hit to the eye against UNC which resulted in a lot of swelling, but it seems he’s been cleared and good to go. He also had a far better game in that loss than White did, totaling six points, four rebounds, three steals and one block. White finished the night with two points while going 0-for-5 from the field with three rebounds, two blocks, and one steal.