In the latest edition of 'P.I. Pulse,' Pro Insight's Aneesh Namburi conducts a deep dive analysis on Oregon's projected first-round pick, Chris Duarte:
From the Dominican Republic to Montreal, to going to JuCo in Florida, Chris Duarte has had a roller coaster of a journey before achieving the success he’s had at Oregon. Playing second fiddle to Payton Pritchard last season, Duarte improved exponentially during his senior season, and was rewarded with the PAC-12 Player of the Year award before a hot tournament run with the Ducks boosted his stock to what’s likely first round status. While his age will be the most obvious concern (will turn 24 before his rookie year), Duarte is a perfect 2-way role player in the modern NBA who also showed some juice with the ball. Below is an in-depth scouting report that covers every aspect of his game and how it translates to the NBA, where his strengths lie in addition to potential areas of improvement.
Date of Birth 6/13/1997
Weight 190 lbs.
Wingspan 6' 7"+
Missed 3 games with a broken finger in 2019-20, missed 2 games with an ankle injury 2020-21.
High: Starting glue wing. Plus-shooter both spotting up and off the bounce w/ basic movement skills. Utilizes offensive spacing+finds open spots via cutting and relocation. Primarily attacks closeouts w/ the ability to hit teammates as cutters and shooters. Plus-finisher due to improved pace/pop. Can run PnR’s in occasional advantage looks due to positive finishing + more consistent reads as a playmaker. Transition threat due to open court speed. Active playmaker with good instincts, uses his stride length and burst to cover ground. Fits well in a switching scheme due to strength improvements and already present laterally mobility and hip flexibility. Primarily defends shot making wings, but might struggle against big wings due to lack of length.
Median: Rotational 3&D wing. Solid shooter on spot-ups and off the bounce. Utilizes offensive spacing+finds open spots via cutting and relocation. Attacks closeouts w/ the ability to hit teammates as cutters and shooters and finish, but a win for D running him off the line. Transition threat due to open court speed. Active playmaker with good instincts, uses stride length and burst to cover ground. Unable to defend guard creators or big wings 1-4 due to sub-optimal length and lateral speed, but covers all other positions.
Low: Depth 3&D wing. Spot-up shooter. Lack of burst limits PnR ability, PUJ regresses to median. Utilizes offensive spacing+finds open spots via cutting and relocation. Has trouble attacking closeouts due to lack of pace or pop. Active playmaker with good instincts, uses his stride length to cover ground. Wing defender due to slight frame, lack of lateral quickness limits him against small guards.
Almost 24 years old, Duarte has had time to fill out his body, and it showed at the college level. Duarte has prototypical size for a wing, specifically in the upper body with a broad chest and shoulders. While he doesn’t have a great wingspan, Duarte’s mobility, quickness, and strength help make up for this, specifically defending opposing wings. Duarte showed himself to be an excellent athlete (specifically in transition), with substantive vertical pop and a speedy top gear. His hips are extremely flexible, and in tandem with his quick feet, they allow him to change direction quickly while in a stance. Duarte could stand to improve his change of speed. With the ball in his hands, Duarte doesn’t really use his top gear speed in the half-court. While partially a byproduct of his handle, understanding the nuances of pace could improve his separation ability on offense. Additionally, he’s not top heavy, but it looks like his upper body is more developed than his lower half. Especially at the NBA level where Duarte will spend some amounts of time on big wings and bigs, being able to hold his ground will be imperative.
Good height for a wing but less than ideal wingspan (+1)
Quick vertical pop (skill accentuated with timing and instincts) despite being primarily a two-foot jumper, has shown ability to adjust and leap off one foot effectively
High-level transition athlete with leaping ability and open court speed
Good directional burst but not functionally utilized offensively (not sure it translates to the NBA); doesn’t play with different paces on ball
Hips possess great flexibility, could stand to get a bit lower to generate power
Gets down the court quick north/south, fluid while moving laterally
Excellent frame; solid upper body w/ broad shoulders+chest; positive core strength; legs might need to get a bit stronger to improve explosion/stability but not a glaring issue
Duarte’s skillset offensively will be based around his shooting. A decent shooter in his first year at Oregon (34% on 5 attempts per game), he somehow took a massive jump while in a bigger role and quietly turned into one of the best shooters in college basketball this past season. While it is rather delusional to suggest that there will not be some level of reversion, Duarte should be a difference-making shooter at the next level both on and off the ball. His positive shooting numbers and hip flexibility also give promise to at least basic movement capabilities down the road despite a lack of sample due to scheme. Duarte’s threat off the catch will force defenses to close out hard on him, making his abilities off closeouts important. He’s more of a passer than a finisher out of his attacks, and although he’s more of a ball mover than dependable playmaker, he has consistently found open teammates while playing with the Ducks. The swing skill offensively will be his ability to finish at a requisite level where NBA defenses don’t sell out against his shot. Duarte is also an extremely smart cutter who uses his defender’s body weight to shake them and get open layups or dunks. He won’t be looked upon to work with the ball much during his early years in the NBA, but like Jake Rosen mentioned here, basketball isn’t divided into such black and white terms of singularly on-ball and off-ball players, and this is where some concerns creep up. In the pick-and-roll, Duarte will always be able to rely on his pull-up jumper, but he currently lacks the pace variability, burst, handle, or playmaking manipulation to get regular paint touches at the NBA level. He has showcased decent poise with the ball even when heavily pressured, but teams will be able to negate most of his pick-and-rolls if the aforementioned skills stagnate due to a lack of possibility creating advantages in multiple contexts.
Half court: 44.2% of 2’s assisted, 55.8% of 3’s assisted
72/109 within restricted area this season
Ability to finish both off one or two feet but two seems to be the preference; might have a slightly longer load time but has real bounce (multiple posters in the half court this season attacking closeouts)
Has good speed but does not utilize pace well; NBA defenders will have an easier time keeping him in front in non-closeout situations
Aggressive attacking the rim but lacks certain finesse when it comes to adjustments at the hoop
Slightly more comfortable attacking left (can get to J easier) but overall fine either direction
1.218 PPP on 165 jump shots in HC (60.3% eFG)
Standout skill; has range and can fire from a variety of settings both on and off the ball
Excellent shot prep (loads lower body well); releases close to apex of jump on the way up
1.5 motion shot with a high release; little wasted motion
Effective one-cut mover, specifically crossovers; will not break defenders down with dribble combos
Gets separation with burst off closeouts and space creation via step backs or hard stop pull-ups
Very much a ‘3 dribble or less’ player; multiple times it seemed like he consciously picked the ball up after the second or third dribble
On-Ball (Pick-and-Roll, Isolation, Post Up)
1.042 PPP on 71 PnR BH possessions, 64.4% eFG; has pull-up ability and can make basic reads (based on size) as a playmaker; enhancing pace could help him get to the hoop
Limited sample in the mid-range, shot form does portend to high levels of volume + efficiency due to being a little upright on drives and needing load time (1.333 PPP on 9 runners, 66.7% eFG)
Would be shocked if he becomes an iso player in the NBA just purely off role, does possesses solid space creation into jumpers (0.980 PPP on 50 possessions, 50.0% eFG)
Off-Ball (Catch-and-Shoot, Transition, Movement Shooting, Cutting)
1.385 PPP on 65 C&S possessions in HC (69.2% eFG)
1.255 PPP on 94 spot-up possessions (66.7% eFG)
Can beat defenses down the court with speed and has the vertical pop to create highlight finishes; 1.397 PPP on 63 transition possessions (74.1% eFG)
Has trouble working downhill from hand offs due to being a limited downhill threat, Oregon didn’t run much movement looks but his indicators + hip flexibility enhances a positive outlook; 1.200 PPP on 35 off-screen possessions (61.3% eFG); 0.786 PPP on 14 hand-off possessions (40.9% eFG)
1.308 PPP on 26 possessions as a cutter (76.5% eFG); great shake to gain separation from defenses and smart understanding when defense is overplaying or loses focus
More of a ball mover than playmaker, but showcased flashes of reactive playmaking as the season progressed (ex. H2 5:50 vs Iowa, ball fake to move D and open up easy roll pass to Kepnang for dunk)
Passable at finding teammates in PnR with basic reads
Extremely patient with the ball in his hands, consistently stays composed
In terms of NBA translation, passing will be most utilized when attacking closeouts
Took occasional low-percentage jumpers while heavily contested this season; hypothesis is that was more of a function of his increased responsibilities rather than a trend; in first year at Oregon was pretty strict within his role so finding a blend of the two seasons would be ideal
Oregon’s defensive scheme showed off Duarte’s versatility in multiple roles, something that will catch NBA organizations’ eyes when scouting him. It wouldn’t be great for a team to have him as their best on-ball defender even in his higher outcomes, but him being within the top-3 while also being a top-3 off-ball defender seems reasonable within a championship context (think Royce O’Neale). Duarte’s defensive allure comes primarily from his ability to create turnovers. Not only is he a smart team defender who understands positioning, but he uses that knowledge to read the offensive and take advantage of miscues. While his gambling tendency could take him out of position occasionally and he needs to drop out of playmaking mode occasionally and focus on the team defense, it seems likely he grades out as a plus-impact defender due to his off-ball proficiency. On ball, Duarte doesn’t have elite length for a wing defender, but his lateral quickness/fluidity, hip flexibility, strong upper body, and 6-6 height helps him hold his own against most players in both iso and PnR situations. His proficiency switching at Oregon could make him valuable in late game situations, as he can blend his off-ball tools while holding his own against a variety of player types.
On-Ball (Isolation, Pick-and-Roll, Post Defense)
Has the on-ball technique to defend iso situations, lack of length hurts as bigger players stop on a dime to shoot pull-up jumpers; quick feet with excellent lower body recovery tools
Hip flexibility+upper body strength to navigate over screens; will immediately be able to switch onto non-traditional big man screeners, if necessary
Needs to add some lower body strength to hold opponents in the post
Off-Ball and Team Defense
Excellent weak side helper; consistently takes away easy interior passes from opponents
Occasionally loses track of man and positioning due to play making prioritization; feels like low-hanging fruit to fix due to his general positive understanding of positioning
Due to Oregon scheme he didn’t chase players off ball, but his tools should be able to translate
Could work on intricacies of help (ex. zoning up shooters backside) but that’s a minor detail
Excellent playing closeouts; has the lateral quickness to go deeper into help and explode out on contests; if match-up attacks, he has the ability to flip hips and slide with them
Quick-twitch athlete who gambles a ton but is mostly smart in terms of choosing his opportunities; has recovery tools (hips+feet) to get back in position when he misses
6.0 block+steal rate showcases playmaking ability on defense
Other (Rim Protection, Rebounding, Switchability)
Covers ground well from help as a weak side rim protector; quick jump+timing helps mitigate length issues; positive block rate for a wing
Rebound rate is slightly below ideal; profile resembles big guard vs. wing
Oregon ran a switching scheme once Dante got hurt, thrived in that defensive system; might struggle against the quickest guards and true centers but should be able to hold them briefly (thought he competed well against Garza and Arizona bigs)
If playoff teams are looking for some depth with their post-lottery first-round pick, Duarte is an excellent candidate to keep an eye on. Recent off-seasons have shown us that playoff quality wings are neither cheap nor plenty. Business-wise, the opportunity to get one of those players for four years at potentially less than the veteran’s minimum is great value, and a worthwhile risk. Being a limited role player on a team with skill on the roster, Duarte should be able to focus on immediately translatable strengths, as giving him too much responsibility early is when he could falter. With Duarte, teams will get a player who feels certain to make an impact as a spot-up shooter and cutter, as well as finishing at a passable rate for an off-ball wing. The swing skill will be his translatability at attacking closeouts at a serviceable level, and whether his proficiency in this area was based on his age + IQ gap. Defensively, Duarte projects as a versatile piece coaches can move across the board, whether it be as a secondary/tertiary on-ball defender, a weak side helper on shooters, or within a switching scheme. While he may not be quick enough to stick with pure guard creators or large enough to offer resistance to big wings consistently, Duarte is at least passable in every aspect of modern defense, which becomes especially valuable late in games.
One of the first things that is brought up when Duarte’s name is thrown into draft discussion is his age - being almost 24 isn’t ideal when dealing with the developmental curve that is expected from draft picks. However, there have been countless examples in recent years where production and scalability wins out over youth (just look at Memphis’ roster). At some point, certain smart teams recognize the floor of drafting a productive player with a positive IQ, and that’s where Duarte falls, personally. It’s tough to peg him as a lottery value due to the aforementioned limited upside (especially compared to the likely alternative options), but any playoff team should be praying to get him as a cheap plug-and-play guy for the end of their rotation.