‘Finish What You Started’: Former NBA All-Star Slams Duke Blue Devils’ Jalen Johnson for Opting Out

Published 02/16/2021, 1:21 PM EST
Jan 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jalen Johnson (1) reacts after fouling out of the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the second half at the Petersen Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports


The Duke Blue Devils are having a forgetful season. They are on their way to their worst record since the 1994-95 season, and a lot of people are unhappy. This list includes freshman Jalen Johnson, who has shocked everyone with his announcement to opt out of the rest of the season.

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They have only six games left, but Johnson has decided to sit out to stay fit for the NBA Draft. He has already dealt with injury earlier and doesn’t want to take any more risks and wants to keep his draft stock as high as possible. This decision has split many and former NBA All-Star Isaiah Thomas is far from impressed.

Thomas said he was in support of the player taking care of himself. But he was left annoyed by how Johnson left his “brothers” midway through the season.

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Was Isaiah Thomas too harsh with his remarks?

The former Celtics star is someone who knows the aftermath of the injury well. After suffering from a hip injury, Thomas went from being an MVP candidate to being an outcast within months. He was just 27 when it happened and is currently without a job, because teams fear he still isn’t fully recovered. So when he voices his opinion on such a matter, it is one to take heed of.

Johnson isn’t the only player on the team whose draft stock has been affected by their poor season. The Blue Devils have a lot of other exciting prospects waiting to join the NBA as well. But none of them have quit on the team yet, especially when there’s just six games left in the season.

In the 13 games he played, Johnson averaged 11.2 points and 6.1 rebounds, while shooting 52% from the field, and 44% from three. Those stats suggest he was having a good season and could have finished it on a good note, irrespective of the team’s failures.

How will the Duke Blue Devils finish the season?

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In their six remaining games, the Blue Devils still have a few tough fixtures left. They face the Virginia Cavaliers on February 20, and then Louisville Cardinals a week later. They finish their season with a game against their rivals, UNC Tar Heels, in a battle of the fallen giants.

These three games could be tough, but the Blue Devils will expect to win at least the other three. This would help them to avoid further embarrassment and finish the season with a .500 record.

DIVE DEEPER

NCAA Analyst Details Why Jalen Johnson Opted Out of Finishing Season with Duke Blue Devils

4 months ago

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Jan 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski reacts on the court during the first half against the Pittsburgh Panthers at the Petersen Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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Aaron Mathew

1650 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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