We are in the second third of the season, and a lot has already been shaken up for the Flames’ backcourt. A familiar face in Drake Dobbs departed from the squad and entered the transfer portal right after the Diamond Head Classic. Also, DJ Moore took off the redshirt a season earlier than expected, and Darius McGhee’s future is growing brighter with every game.
So, where does this leave the Flames backcourt going forward? Here are a few likely realities the Flames face in the coming seasons.
1. Darius leaves.
This is the first outcome that seems more likely this month than it did in November. Darius is putting up exceptional numbers. He is currently fourth in the country for points per game (23.0 ppg) (per ESPN). He has had some monster games from a numbers standpoint, and his most recent performance of 27 points in 23 minutes proves he was likely to complete another 40 plus-point game if necessary. What’s the takeaway? Darius has the hot hand and his national stock is climbing. If he is looking to make a run at the NBA, it seems obvious this would be the season to do it, foregoing his optional COVID year.
2. The current backcourt will have to be developed.
If Darius departs, the Flames will be reliant on some inexperienced guards. Primary ball-handling duties will be split likely between Kyle Rode and DJ Moore. Peebles could be entrusted with point-man duties like he has this season, but this is unlikely to catch on since he is such an accurate scoring threat. To make him ball-heavy truncates his weaponry. Joseph Venzant is trustworthy with possessions, averaging just 0.9 turnovers per game in 19 minutes per contest, but he is not a primary creator for the offense.
3. Venzant becomes a dangerous slashing/post-up guard threat.
I don’t want to sound like an analyst who refuses to leave the eighties, and I acknowledge basketball has changed immensely even in my short 27 years on this planet, but my recent experience on NBA2K MyCareer mode has me convinced there is a place for Venzant’s offensive skills if he embraces some of that old-school ball. Joseph is highly underrated in his slashing and post-up offense. His athleticism gives him an advantage over even similar-sized defenders, and he is an aggressive finisher (in a recent interview, Venzant recounted his father’s words to “throw it down” if he gets anywhere near the rim). Additionally, JV is fairly efficient at the charity stripe, shooting 80 percent on the season. This means he is a likely bucket whether he finishes (and maybe even provides a little spark with an emphatic dunk) a close field goal, or he can convert at the line.
4. Colin Porter: the point guard of mystery.
Colin recently made Flames’ news when he decided to reclassify, coming to the Flames a year early. I am predicting he will arrive sooner to redshirt and get collegiate experience, not to actually jump right into the action. Porter will be an interesting addition for the Flames. From what I can tell, he appears to be a shot-creating playmaker. This could pair nicely with a slashing Venzant and a knock-down shooter in Peebles. Colin appears to be a floor-general type of talent, a facilitator who serves his team where he is needed most. If my suspicions are correct, he will eventually bring out the best in his fellow backcourt members.
As with all future projections in sports, a lot can change. The transfer portal has radically shifted everything in the game of basketball to a year-by-year analysis. However, McKay runs a commitment-heavy program, so we do have some solid ground to look forward to in the years to come.