With underclassmen declaring their intentions to go pro, it got me thinking. Who would make up an all-early entrant team of just Duke players?
First let’s take a look at who has left Duke early to enter the NBA Draft:
2012 – Austin Rivers
2011 – Kyrie Irving
2009 – Gerald Henderson
2007 – Josh McRoberts
2005 – Shavlik Randolph
2004 – Luol Deng
2002 – Carlos Boozer
2002 – Mike Dunleavy Jr.
2002 – Jay Williams
1999 – William Avery
1999 – Elton Brand
1999 – Corey Maggette
While Jay Williams technically graduated in 3 years, he still had a year of eligibility remaining and could have played another year. That is why he is included.
How does one go about choosing the team? Longevity? All-Star appearances? Overall stats? Potential? Everything will be taken into consideration.
The first player I would select for the team would be the point guard for the team – Kyrie Irving. He was the #1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year and was the only unanimous selection to the NBA All-Rookie Team. In his brief career he’s averaged 20.8 PPG, 5.6 APG, and 3.7RPG. While he has not been in the league that long you have seen what he is capable of doing (ask Team USA).
The second selection for the team would be at the shooting guard position – Gerald Henderson. He was selected #12 overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Bobcats. He would not get much playing time his rookie year because of Larry Brown being the Bobcats head coach, who does not like playing rookies. Henderson has improved every year, averaging a career best 15.3 PPG, 2.5 APG, and 3.7 RPG. He had his career high of 35 pts. against the Boston Celtics this season. He is also considered one of the Bobcats best defenders.
At small forward the obvious selection is Luol Deng. Deng made the NBA All-Rookie Team and has been a two-time NBA All-Star selection. He is also considered one of the top defenders in the league as he regularly draws the other teams best player (LeBron James for example). For his career Deng is averaging 16.0 PPG, 2.4 APG, and 6.4 RPG.
For the power forward position we have 2 great candidates with Carlos Boozer and Elton Brand. Due to the lack of a true center from the early entrant list I’m choosing Boozer as the power forward selection. Like Deng, Boozer is a two-time NBA All-Star selection and for his career is averaging 16.9 PPG and 9.9 RBG.
Since I didn’t choose him for power forward, Elton Brand makes the team at the center position. He was Co-Rookie of the Year, make the NBA All-Rookie Team, and is a two-time NBA All-Star selection. While he is nearing the end of his career, Brand has career averages of 17.5 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 1.8 BLKPG.
So to recap your Duke All NBA Early-Entrant Team is
G – Kyrie Irving
SG – Gerald Henderson
SF – Luol Deng
PF – Carlos Boozer
C – Elton Brand
That’s a helluva starting five right there. I bet that team would be at least a top 3-4 team in the Eastern Conference easily and could make the Eastern Conference Finals. I wouldn’t be shocked if they gave the Miami Heat a run for their money.
What do you think? Who would make your team?