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Duke Basketball: Creating a Team of Blue Devils in the NBA
The Duke Basketball program has been fortunate to send a tremendous amount of talent to the NBA over the past two decades. It’s a testament to Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke coaching staff as well as the former Blue Devils who have gone on to NBA success.
Some hold the belief that Duke isn’t a good program when it comes to preparing players for the NBA, but the statistics and careers of many Blue Devils currently in the league go to show that’s a ridiculous argument.
Many Duke fans follow the former players who are now in the NBA and pull for the teams they’re on. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to create a team of nothing but players who went to Duke? Would there be any question about who to root for? If an NBA general manager, which could appropriately be Danny Ferry, were putting together a team of Blue Devils, here’s a roster he could have.
Point Guard: Kyrie Irving
The team would start with arguably the best young point guard in the NBA and one of the future superstars of the game. However, Irving would really have to carry the load without a true backup behind him.
Shooting Guard: Gerald Henderson
Gerald Henderson has really developed into a solid player the past two years, but no one has noticed because it’s been with the Charlotte Bobcats. He’s improved his consistency with his shooting and he’s one of the more explosive athletes in the league.
Small Forward: Luol Deng
Luol Deng is one of the best all-around players in the NBA. With career averages of 16 points and six rebounds per game, Deng is extremely efficient and consistent on the offensive side of the ball. He’s also an excellent defender and uses his length to match up well against bigger opponents.
Power Forward: Carlos Boozer
He may be on the downside of his impressive NBA career, but Carlos Boozer is still a very good power forward, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Because of his ability to extend the defense on pick-and-pop situations, Boozer would greatly benefit from playing in an offense with a point guard like Kyrie Irving. In all honesty, who wouldn’t benefit from playing with Kyrie Irving?
Center: Mason Plumlee
The five-spot would be the biggest weakness on the floor for this team, and it would be something a coach would have to manage and develop around. A couple years ago, Elton Brand would have been the easy fit for this spot, but injuries and father time have turned him into more of a limited role player. Having a player like Mason Plumlee in this spot would give this team the opportunity to run the floor and play in transition.
J.J. Redick – Who better to come off the bench than one of the best sixth-men in the league? Redick is known as a shooter, but he’s really improved the other aspects of his game, including his passing and defense.
Shane Battier – It doesn’t matter where you put Shane Battier – he finds a way to contribute and help a team win. He’s still one of the better defenders in the NBA and has proven with the Heat that he can hit clutch baskets in pressure situations.
Mike Dunleavy Jr. – Although he’s done it in relatively quiet fashion, Mike Dunleavy Jr. has become a reliable player during his NBA career. He’s averaged double figures in scoring in each of the last three seasons while shooting over 40-percent from behind the three-point line. He’s a great guy to have when a team wants to space the floor.
Josh McRoberts – As frustrating as he might have been for fans to watch at Duke, Josh McRoberts has worked his way into becoming a serviceable post player in the NBA. He has great size at 6’10”, 240 pounds, and he’s a very effective rebounder. McRoberts also isn’t one to shy away from physical play.
Corey Maggette – It will be interesting to see if Corey Maggette can stay on an NBA roster this season as the final chapter of his playing career appears to be ending. For a guy who’s relied on his athleticism over the course of his 14-year career, Maggette was always very good at attacking the basket and finishing at the rim.
Kyle Singler – Many people doubted Kyle Singler’s ability to contribute on an NBA roster, but he was a pleasant surprise for the Detroit Pistons last season, averaging over eight points and four rebounds in 28 minutes per game. Singler has good size and versatility and would be a regular in the second rotation.
Elton Brand – He may be 34 years old, but Elton Brand can still play in the NBA. He’s always been one of the best interior defenders in the game and he features a very diverse set of offensive skills.
How do you think this squad would do in the NBA? Would you make any changes to the roster? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.