Duke Blue Devils dot the NBA landscape these days. Yet no one may have more current importance to his team than Rodney Hood.
The Duke Blue Devils were able to get past the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets last night without Coach Mike Krzyzewski. The basketball coach was ailing and missed his first games since the 1995 season. One thing that probably did not contribute to his illness were his recent ESPN commercials where he proves to be technologically incompetent trying to communicate with former players.
In those commercials, Coach K communicates with current pros Kyrie Irving and Justise Winslow. Yet the Duke player playing the best right now might well be Rodney Hood of the Utah Jazz. In fact Ben Golliver at Sports Illustrated suggested that Hood is outplaying any of his sophomore brethren from the 2014 draft class.
Back in 2014, I speculated that Hood would make a good fit for the Hornets if he could become an oversized shooting guard in the mold of Stephen Jackson. Now Hood is a major contributor at shooting guard for the Jazz, though Golliver identifies a different model for the 6’8” 208 lbs Hood. That model would be Houston Rockets guard James Harden.
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Hood’s play and Utah’s injuries have led the Jazz to experiment with their lineups including a lineup that features Hood as the point guard. He has no problem with it, as that is basically the same way Harden is used by the Rockets. Hood also credits Harden for showing him how to read pick and roll situations to keep the defense on its toes. He also believes that he has increased his court awareness to find open teammates.
The result of this has Hood playing at 16 points per game, three assists per game level. Utah is riding his development and their post defense (Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors) to hang around in the ever tougher Western Conference playoff race. Golliver believed that was enough to make him the most impressive rookie of last year’s draft class.
The current Blue Devils match up against NC State on Saturday.