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ACC Team Previews: Clemson

Clemson won just 5 ACC games last year, largely due to an inept offense. Their defense wasn't great, but it was good enough. They'll have to find some more scoring, despite losing arguably their top two players. It won't be easy. None of the newcomers are game-changers. They are also awfully thin up front.

K.J. McDaniels will lead this team as far as he can.
K.J. McDaniels will lead this team as far as he can.
Streeter Lecka

Last season record: 13-18 (5-13)
Preseason Media Poll: 14th

Projected Starters:
Jordan Roper, G, Sophomore
Devin Coleman, G, Sophomore
Jaron Blossomgame, F, Junior
K.J. McDaniels, F, Junior
Landry Nnoko, C, Sophomore

Key Reserves:
Rod Hall, G, Junior
Damarcus Harrison, G, Junior
Adonis Filer, G, Sophomore
Austin Ajukwa, G, Freshman
Sidy Djitte, C, Freshman
Patrick Rooks, G, Freshman

Clemson lost 10 out of their last 11 games, with many of those games being blowouts. They boasted one of the top defenses in the ACC (ranking 53rd nationally in defensive efficiency). This defense was led by 3 very good shot blockers, who excelled at protecting the paint. However, 2 of those guys (Devin Booker and Milton Jennings) graudated, leaving just McDaniels. Nnoko showed a strong defensive capability inside as a freshman last season in limited minutes, and will likely step into the starting lineup.

Clemson's problems last year were almost entire offensive. They had the worst offense in the ACC, scoring just .93 points per possession. Basically, they couldn't shoot the ball. Jennings took nearly half his shots from 3 point range, and shot just 32% from deep. His FG% overall was just 40%. That is just unacceptable for a 6'9" PF.

There really isn't anything that Clemson did well offensively. Aside from shooting, they rarely got to the line (and when they did they couldn't make FTs). They were middle of the pack in the ACC in turnovers.

For Clemson to have a successful season, McDaniels is going to have to be the guy. He shot just 43% from the field, but made about 1 trey per game, shooting 33% from downtown. McDaniels is also going to have to increase his rebounding. Booker and Jennings were the Tigers' top two rebounders. The shooting problems could be somewhat solved by Roper getting more minutes. Roper is one of the smallest players in the nation, but shot nearly 42% from 3. He's also a tenacious perimeter defender, who will hound opposite PGs.

The addition of Blossomgame should also help. He was a top 100 recruit 2 years ago, but missed the entire season with a leg injury. He's going to have to help replace the production lost when Booker and Jennings left. He has yet to prove he has the strength to bang inside, but he's quick, he's athletic and he can shoot from outside. He is going to play mostly as a wing right now, but in the future, Clemson would like him to bulk up and play in the paint.

The wild card is Nnoko, a guy with legit size in a league with few real big men. The question is his talent level. He played just 7 minutes per game last season, but that was with some talent ahead of him. The loss of a couple of big men might open the door for Nnoko to increase his playing time.

The loss of Booker is simply too much for Clemson to overcome. If Blossomgame is 100% and ready to go, and guys like Roper and Demarcus Harrison step up and provide some production in the backcourt, then Clemson could surprise. But they are still likely to be one of the second division teams in the ACC. There simply isn't enough overall talent.