Duke Basketball: Ranking the Blue Devils' NBA Draft Picks Since 2000
Prospective college basketball players want to know one major question when choosing a program: Can this school help get me to the NBA?
Duke has had more success than most in that area, especially in the last 15 years. Since 2000, 20 former Blue Devils have been selected in the NBA draft, second only to Kentucky's 22.
Any program as elite as Duke's will certainly turn out stars, like Kyrie Irving (pictured above). The sheer unpredictability of sport will produce a fair number of busts, as well. But how do the ex-Dukies stack up against each other? Who is the best of the bunch—and conversely, the worst?
We put together one of these for Kentucky earlier in the week. Now, it's Duke's turn. Supporters of the two schools can debate until the end of time which blue-blooded, blue-shirted program turned out the better pros. But first, let's look at the NBA talents who first got on scouts' radar in Durham.
20. Chris Carrawell, No. 41, 2000, San Antonio Spurs
Chris Carrawell is the only ex-Blue Devil drafted in this century who never suited up in the NBA. An ABA champion and MVP, he's moved into coaching, joining former Duke teammate Steve Wojciechowski's staff at Marquette.
19. Nolan Smith, No. 21, 2011, Portland Trail Blazers
Nolan Smith was taken one pick ahead of rebounding monster Kenneth Faried. After two uninspiring seasons in Portland, Smith spent the 2013-14 season in Croatia. Eurobasket reporter David Pick has reported that the Bulls and Thunder may offer Smith a way back into the league.
18. Daniel Ewing, No. 32, 2005, Los Angeles Clippers
Daniel Ewing averaged 3.4 points per game in two seasons with the Clippers before wandering around Europe. He's been something of a good luck charm, winning three Polish National League titles with Asseco Prokom along with cup championships in both Russia and Turkey.
17. Jay Williams, No. 2, 2002, Chicago Bulls
The Bulls expected Jay Williams to be their point guard of the future when they drafted him second behind Yao Ming. He posted a triple-double in his seventh NBA game but was wildly inconsistent during his rookie year. An offseason motorcycle accident effectively ended his career, as a pair of comeback attempts garnered no contract offers.
16. Shelden Williams, No. 5, 2006, Atlanta Hawks
Before Shelden Williams, only David Robinson and Pervis Ellison had ever recorded 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 350 blocks and 150 steals in college ball. His pro totals were sadly similar, as he averaged only 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game with seven teams in six seasons. His wife, Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker, is the most famous player in his household.
15. Austin Rivers, No. 10, 2012, New Orleans Hornets
Austin Rivers is struggling to adapt to the NBA, averaging only 7.0 points per game and 2.2 assists per game over his first two seasons. His name is one of the first to be dangled in trade rumors as the now-Pelicans try to clear cap space to secure a trade for Houston center Omer Asik.
14. Dahntay Jones, No. 20, 2003, Boston Celtics
Dahntay Jones has been a solid defender for six teams over his 10-year career, with arguably his best days spent as an Indiana Pacer. He averaged 10.2 points per game for the Pacers in 2009-10. This past season, however, Jones was unemployed.
13. Ryan Kelly, No. 48, 2013, Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers liked what they saw from Ryan Kelly after he regained full health following the nagging foot injury that impacted his senior season at Duke. From January 17 on, Kelly dropped 9.7 points in 25.7 minutes per game. L.A. tendered him a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent, but Salt Lake Tribune reporter Tony Jones indicates that the Jazz may still make a run.
12. Gerald Henderson, No. 12, 2009, Charlotte Bobcats
After a rough rookie year, Gerald Henderson has averaged 13.5 points per game over the past four seasons. The problem is that he's not a threat to spread the floor, as he's made only 95 three-pointers in five years. A strong defender, Henderson may hang around the league for a while, but it may not be with the newly renamed Hornets, who were actively shopping him before the draft.
11. Mason Plumlee, No. 22, 2013, Brooklyn Nets
Mason Plumlee the Second started 20 of the Nets' final 28 games, posting 9.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game and shooting a ludicrous 68.6 percent from the floor in that time frame. If not for a complete disappearing act in the playoffs, his rookie campaign would be an unqualified success, considering his draft position and the stature of his veteran teammates.
10. Miles Plumlee, No. 26, 2012, Indiana Pacers
After playing in only 14 games for Indiana as a rookie, the eldest of the Fighting Plumlees was dealt to Phoenix. There, he only posted 8.1 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game and 11 double-doubles, 10 of those before the All-Star break. If the Pacers had known Plumlee had that in him, perhaps they wouldn't have shattered Roy Hibbert's confidence by acquiring Andrew Bynum.
9. Josh McRoberts, No. 37, 2007, Portland Trail Blazers
In Josh McRoberts' first five-plus seasons, he only saw one year of regular action, starting 51 games for the Pacers in 2010-11. He's rejuvenated his career in Charlotte, however, playing more than 30 minutes per night and making 97 starts in the past year and a half. He could be on the move, however, with ESPN's Jeff Goodman reporting that as many as 10 teams may be interested in signing McRoberts.
8. Chris Duhon, No. 38, 2004, Chicago Bulls
Chris Duhon was a frequent starter at point guard for the Bulls and Knicks before washing out with the Magic and Lakers. His last major headlines were drawn as a piece in the trade that sent Dwight Howard to Los Angeles. Duhon is now beginning a coaching career, joining ex-Laker assistant Dan D'Antoni's staff at Marshall.
7. Kyle Singler, No. 33, 2011, Detroit Pistons
Kyle Singler has started 110 games in two seasons as a Piston, including the final 35 of the 2013-14 season. Over that span, he averaged a cool 11.0 points per game and shot 41.9 percent from three-point range. Detroit's signing of Jodie Meeks could muddy the waters for Singler next season unless Greg Monroe bolts in free agency.
6. Mike Dunleavy, No. 3, 2002, Golden State Warriors
Mike Dunleavy's production has never truly lived up to his draft position, but he's certainly redeemed himself after a rocky start to his career. Since 2007, Dunleavy has shot 39.3 percent from long range, more than a five-point improvement from his first five seasons in the league.
5. Shane Battier
Pick No. 6, 2001 draft, Memphis Grizzlies
Career Stats: 8.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 38.4% 3PT
The statistics aren't sexy. Shane Battier has spent the bulk of his career as a role player, but in the process, he filled a niche that is becoming essential to championship teams.
Grantland's Zach Lowe penned a column last April wondering "Who Are the New Age Shane Battiers?" The article scrutinized several players' credentials as "three-and-D" type players, the ones who can play strong defense on the wings and sink their own long-range shots on the offensive end.
Battier settled into such a role after leaving Memphis, more than doubling his three-point attempts in his first season as a Houston Rocket. He was almost metronomic in his consistency, sinking right around 38 percent from the arc as a member of the Grizzlies, Rockets and Miami Heat, where he won two NBA titles in support of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Like Mike Dunleavy, Battier never truly lived up to being a top-six draft pick, but a 13-year career that concluded as a valuable piece of a championship team isn't something to brush aside. Besides, four of the next five picks in the 2001 draft were the late Eddie Griffin, DeSagana Diop, Rodney White and Kedrick Brown.
The Grizz could have done much worse.
4. J.J. Redick
Pick No. 11, 2006 draft, Orlando Magic
Career Stats: 9.9 PPG, 39.0% 3PT, 88.5% FT
J.J. Redick left Duke as college basketball's most prolific three-point gunner ever. As a pro, he spent three seasons just trying to prove he could do anything else to earn minutes.
It wasn't until the 2009-10 season that Redick finally saw substantial playing time, earning 22 minutes per night. Over the last five seasons, Redick has established himself as a more versatile weapon, peaking with 15.1 points per game and 4.4 assists per game for the Magic before the team traded him to Milwaukee in February 2013.
Also over that five-year span, Redick has increased his scoring average every year, pouring in 15.2 for the Los Angeles Clippers this past season. The Clippers went 24-10 in Redick's 34 starts, 14-6 when he started next to Chris Paul. Hand and back injuries derailed his season, just when he was finally beginning to establish his durability. Redick had only missed five games in the past two seasons.
3. Kyrie Irving
Pick No. 1, 2011 draft, Cleveland Cavaliers
Career Stats: 20.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 5.8 APG, 37.8% 3PT, 86.2% FT
Now those are some numbers, eh, sports fans? The last NBA draft pick out of Duke who went on to be a 20-point-per-game pro scorer was Bob Verga, a third-round pick in 1967.
Still, though, isn't Irving simply doing what a No. 1 pick should be doing? Winning the NBA draft lottery is supposed to allow a team its pick of potential franchise-changing superstars in the making. Irving has largely played superb basketball, strong enough to put him in two All-Star games and win a Rookie of the Year trophy.
In Irving's three years, however, the Cavs haven't exactly resurrected themselves from the smoking crater left behind when LeBron James bolted for sunny Florida. Cleveland's record over Irving's career stands at 78-152, a .339 winning percentage. As Nice & Smooth once said, "Ain't a damn thing changed."
The list of players who have averaged 20 points and five assists through their first three NBA seasons is a short but distinguished one, dotted with names like LeBron, Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. Kyrie is one of only 10 men with this kind of statistical resume. The other nine, however, had already tasted playoff basketball by their third seasons.
2. Luol Deng
Pick No. 7, 2004 draft, Phoenix Suns
Career Stats: 16.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.5 APG
The Suns dealt Luol Deng's draft rights to the Chicago Bulls for the legendary Jackson Vroman and a 2005 first-rounder that would turn into Nate Robinson. If there was ever a deal that an organization would love to have back...
Meanwhile, Deng settled nicely into Chicago, starting all but 56 of the 637 games he played as a Bull. He averaged more than 15.0 points per game in seven of his 10 seasons and made two All-Star teams during his Chicago tenure.
Deng's only major drawback as a Bull regarded his health. He's only played in 70 or more games five times in nine full seasons, not counting the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign.
A decade after the fact, Deng is the third-most productive player from the 2004 draft in terms of win shares, ranking behind only Dwight Howard and Andre Iguodala, per Basketball-Reference.com. Only Howard, Kevin Martin and Al Jefferson are bigger career scorers than Deng.
Deng's consistent production on both ends has made him one of the better picks of the century so far from any school. But there is still one former Duke star who has him beat on sheer value.
1. Carlos Boozer
Pick No. 34, 2002 draft, Cleveland Cavaliers
Career Stats: 16.6 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 52.3% FG
This selection will be assailed by people incapable of remembering anything in sports that happened more than 15 minutes ago. While the current vintage of Carlos Boozer is known as an overpaid amnesty case waiting to happen so the Bulls can sign someone who still has skills, Boozer entered the league hungry to overcome a highly unpromising draft position.
Boozer was the sixth pick of the second round in 2002, not the first. The five players taken ahead of him in that second round read as follows: Steve Logan, Roger Mason, Robert Archibald, Vincent Yarbrough and Dan Gadzuric. According to Basketball-Reference.com, those five players combined for 29.8 total win shares, or 4.0 fewer than John Salmons.
Boozer? He's just second in his draft class in win shares, trailing only No. 9 overall pick Amar'e Stoudemire. Twice, Boozer averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds in a season and both times he was rewarded with an All-Star selection. He's ranked among the league's top 10 in rebounding five times and in field-goal percentage seven times. In 2008, Boozer was named a third-team All-NBA performer.
Once again, all of this from the 34th pick in his draft. Players like Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Dajuan Wagner and Melvin Ely were lottery picks in 2002. The draft is an inexact science at best, but sometimes the league is rewarded when its teams don't merely punt second-rounders on a European project who'll never set foot on American soil.
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