Duke Basketball: Ranking the Blue Devils' NBA Prospects

Trevor MedeirosCorrespondent IDecember 26, 2012

Duke Basketball: Ranking the Blue Devils' NBA Prospects

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    Duke’s senior trio of Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry has done lots of great things on and off the court during their respective Duke careers.

    Now, fans are starting to wonder how they’ll fare as potential NBA players. It’s pretty safe to say Plumlee will be drafted next year.

    But what about the other two? Let’s find out, as we rate each player’s chances of being drafted into the Association.

3. Ryan Kelly

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    Two years ago, the thought of Ryan Kelly being drafted by an NBA team seemed utterly ridiculous.

    Today, that notion is still ridiculous, but to a lesser extent. After Kelly finally broke out in his junior year at Duke, some Blue Devils fans are beginning to wonder if he’ll actually get drafted this summer.

    If he does, it’s likely to be at the tail end of the NBA draft. Even if Kelly repeats his solid junior season (11.8 PPG and 40 percent three-point shooting), he’s going to have to scratch and claw his way to get drafted.

    Obviously, Kelly’s biggest strength comes from his ability to shoot from the outside. His height (6’11”) and stroke have turned him into a poor man’s Dirk Nowitzki—minus Dirk’s patented kick on his shot, of course.

    Another strength in Kelly’s game is his ability to work in the high post. He can face up defenders and occasionally blow by them on the way to the basket.

    And when he’s not facing up opponents in the high post, Kelly can use his shooting to effectively “pick and pop” at the next level. Obviously, the biggest weakness that could prevent Kelly from potentially being drafted in the spring is his lack of overall athleticism.

    Kelly is seen often clumsily trundling up and down the court during Duke games. That trait certainly isn’t what NBA scouts are looking for.

    Also, Kelly will need to improve his rebounding if he wants to hear his name called on draft night. He’s never averaged more than 5.4 RPG in a season at Duke.

    If Kelly can continue his solid shooting and improve his rebounding numbers the remainder of his senior season, he may have a puncher’s chance of being a late second-round selection.

2. Seth Curry

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    Surprisingly, the NBA buzz surrounding Duke senior shooting guard Seth Curry has been negative.

    Why has this been the case? As fellow B/R Duke scribe Dantzler Smith recently pointed out, Seth’s older brother Stephen was a lottery pick a few years back, and he has similar attributes.

    But evidently, the draft experts don’t share the same love for Seth as they did for Stephen, as many mock drafts don’t even have the little brother being taken this spring. It’s a shame because Seth can help an NBA team from a pure scoring standpoint. His offensive game is very similar to former Providence Friar and current New Jersey Net Marshon Brooks.

    Simply put, Brooks was a pure scorer during his Providence career. At times in his career, Seth Curry has been a pure scorer. He led all freshmen scorers during his only season at Liberty, putting up 20.2 PPG back in 2008-09.

    Brooks is a more effective and prolific scorer, but Curry is better rounded. He has a much better outside shot, is more productive from the free-throw line and plays better defense.

    On the contrary, Curry struggles attacking the basket and is still too streaky of a three-point shooter to be counted on consistently at the next level. Also, fair or not, Curry is gaining a reputation for being injury-prone.

    He’s battling a leg injury that won’t go away, and his brother has dealt with injuries throughout his young NBA career. Still, Seth Curry and Marshon Brooks share very similar attributes.

    If Brooks was drafted two years ago, why can’t Curry be picked this summer?

1. Mason Plumlee

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    It’s safe to say Mason Plumlee is currently Duke’s best NBA prospect.

    Even before returning for his senior season, Plumlee was considered a fringe lottery draft pick by many NBA draft gurus. Considering the improvement in his game currently on display, Plumlee has become a sure-fire lottery pick this summer.

    He’s one of the most complete centers in college basketball. Plumlee’s biggest attributes include his strength, athleticism and ball-handling ability.

    Although he’ll never be asked to bring the ball up on the fast break in the NBA, that doesn’t mean Plumlee can’t do it. He’s done it several times in his impressive Duke career.

    Plumlee has also become a more efficient low-block, post-up scorer so far through his senior season as a Blue Devil. He’s making quicker—and smarter—offensive moves to the basket.

    Plumlee has even improved his free-throw shooting, a part of his game that has long been a bugaboo. Entering his senior season, Plumlee had never shot 60 percent from the charity stripe.

    This year, he’s averaging almost 70 percent—a big improvement from past seasons. At this point, the question isn’t whether or not Plumlee will be a lottery pick.

    The question is whether or not he’ll slip into the top five of the 2013 NBA draft. If he keeps building on his incredible senior campaign, there’s no reason to believe Plumlee won’t be a top five pick.