Chris Duarte has acclimated himself to new places for better opportunity, and his latest season at the University of Oregon has solidified him as a dependable NBA prospect. Duarte was born in Montreal, Canada before moving to Puerto Plata of the Dominican Republic. Quickly making a name for himself, he moved to New York to play for Redemption Christian Academy in his junior year. By the time that he finished high school, he was the ninth-ranked basketball player in the state, according to 247Sports. Duarte originally committed to Western Kentucky; he even enrolled there before failing to qualify academically.
Instead of taking a year off from playing, Duarte enrolled at the elite JUCO, Northwest Florida State College. In his sophomore year, he was named to the 2018-19 NJCAA All-First Team and won NABC NJCAA Player of the Year. During that season, he put up 19 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, and shot 54 percent from the field on 12.3 attempts per contest. The experience was worth it, as it gave Duarte a number of opportunities to showcase his skills at a higher level than high school. After two seasons at Northwest Florida, he transferred to the University of Oregon as the top-ranked JUCO player in the nation, according to 247Sports.com. This past season as a senior at Oregon, he proved himself yet again, winning the Jerry West Award, while earning first-team All-PAC-12 Offense and Defense honors. Duarte’s story of perseverance is a testament to his work ethic and willingness to bet on himself.
The first word that comes to mind with Duarte is versatility. The past season at Oregon, the senior led the team in steals (49), defensive rebounds (101) and blocks (21). In the PAC-12 contextual rankings, he was in the top 10 for points per game (seventh, 17.1), field-goal percentage (ninth among those with 20-plus minutes played, 53.2%), total threes made (third, 58), steal percentage (first, 3.4%), and plus-minus rating (second, 11.5). Also, he was the only PAC-12 guard to average at least 0.8 blocks per game, while contributing 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Duarte’s greatest strength is his scoring efficiency; he ranked at the 95th percentile at 1.117 points per possession (PPP), and posted an incredible true-shooting percentage of 65.6 (tops in the PAC-12). Only three players in PAC-12 history have ever posted a true-shooting percentage of at least 65 and averaged 1.5 or more steals per game: UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie, and of course, Oregon’s Chris Duarte.
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Duarte is a 6-foot-6 shooting guard who leads by example by making big plays when the team needs them. Whether he makes a crucial defensive stop or three-point dagger, the senior is dangerous on both ends, every game. Duarte was one of the most efficient players in college basketball this season, with his elite shooting splits (.532/.424/.810) part of the greater landscape of his game. In terms of PPP, he ranked no worse than the 79th percentile on spot-up, pick-and-roll, and isolation plays, and he made more than half of all of his shots off the bounce (50.8%). In transition, he ranked at the 92nd percentile, contributing 1.4 points per possession, while shooting 64 percent. Duarte’s transition success is strongly tied to his elite steal rate (1.9 SPG). He is handsy, alert, and aggressive, while having the perfect combination of veteran discipline and youthful tenacity. He was also second on Oregon in defensive rebounds (96), which gave him many opportunities to push the break.
His defensive energy is just as much why Duarte is ranked so high on mock drafts for a 23-year-old. He is aggressive on ball handlers in pick-and-roll situations, often creating pressure that leads to turnovers. His defensive activity is a byproduct of consistently being alert; it is clear that he does his homework on the opposition’s tendencies, and is always ready to intercept a skip pass. The senior also has great discipline, consistently keeping his hands high to maximize his range.
What makes Duarte an interesting case is his 0.8 blocks per game. He led Oregon in blocks as a perimeter player, which rarely happens; one of the main reasons for this is that he excels at tracking down guys on fast breaks. He wants to win at all costs — if it means sprinting full speed over 80 feet for the chance to get a stop, Duarte will do it. He is not the quickest defender, but he does move well laterally and he is very smart.
Duarte’s shooting, especially off the catch, is his greatest strength. His balance and consistent set point keep him in control even when the defense collapses onto him. He ranks at the 65th percentile for PPP on guarded catch-and-shoot jumpers, shooting 37.1 percent. When unguarded, his percentage jumps to 60 percent while ranking at the 98th percentile for PPP. Maximizing his space is another key; at his age, he is much craftier than the average PAC-12 player. He uses screens to control the offensive pace and to create just enough extra separation to shoot. Since his jumper is about as textbook as anybody’s in this draft class, he does not need much room whatsoever. As an older prospect, his overall potential may be more limited than most. However, there is virtually no risk in betting on Duarte’s jumper. In 33 games at Northwest Florida State, he shot 40% from distance, along with 80.8% from the line. His third year in college and first at Oregon he was nothing special from deep (33.6%), but he raised that mark to 42.4 percent in his final year.
Throughout his college career, Duarte has always been a gunner; in every collegiate season, he has attempted at least five three-pointers a game. And while he excels after the catch, Duarte can be dangerous off the dribble as well, converting 44.4 percent of his shots on these possessions (94th percentile for PPP). The senior can convert dribble jumpers out of on-ball screens or from three-point step-backs. If he can maintain relative efficiency in the NBA, he could become a Sixth Man of the Year candidate very quickly.
In the NBA, Duarte’s scoring package is best served as a complementary piece rather than a focal point. He projects as a two-way guard, who excels as an off-ball defender but has room to improve on-ball. Duarte should be serviceable for years to come, being one of the more dependable draft prospects in the 2021 draft.
- High motor and aggressiveness on both ends; no matter the situation, he will give the game his all
- Defensive intensity and consistent activity — simply dependable
- Moves well laterally and consistently has high hands (a trait not easily teachable to his degree)
- Highly efficient and able to score in a variety of ways; ranked at the 95th percentile for overall PPP this past season
- Can bring the ball up and even play spot minutes at point — certainly a patient player when needed in the half court
- Shooting off the catch — shoots with confidence while being incredibly efficient
- Has a skill set to excel in the transition, including quick reflexes; averaged 1.39 PPP on the break this season (92nd percentile, 1.39 PPP)
- Defined role — fits into any team context
- Age, already 23, will be 24 by the time of NBA Draft
- Simple passer, who lacks elite vision; had a career assist-turnover ratio of 1.1 at Oregon
- Favors driving left, but rarely uses his left hand to finish; made less than 44 percent of his shots within seven feet off drives this season
- Specifically on defense, gets by with IQ more than elite quickness or length; high energy level will make him effective off the ball, but likely will be just serviceable against smaller wings at the point of attack
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements: Stats used in our scouting reports come from Synergy Sports Technology, RealGM.com, and Sports-Reference.com. Other outside sources are noted with links to the source.