Watching the NBA playoffs, and knowing there are currently 10 Duke players playing in the playoffs, got me thinking…which NBA team has had the most Duke Blue Devils of all time? Not the most players at once, but the team that has had a Duke player on its roster at some point in the team’s history.
To start, I needed to find a list of every Duke player to play in the NBA. For that I used http://www.basketball-reference.com/friv/colleges.cgi?college=duke. They only list a player for Duke whose last collegiate season was at Duke. Someone like Elliot Williams, for example, would not be listed for Duke since he played his final collegiate season at Memphis. From that list, I narrowed it down to those players who played at least one season in the NBA. I did not include anyone that only played in the ABA.
How many players from Duke would you guess have played in the NBA? 20? 30? Try 54 (and counting). That’s right. 54 players whose final collegiate season was at Duke have gone on to play in the NBA.
Now which team would be your first guess as to having the most Duke players in team history? Mine was the Chicago Bulls. They’ve had Elton Brand, Jay Williams, Chris Duhon, Luol Deng, and Carlos Boozer just to name a few. I was close BUT wrong. The team with the most Duke Blue Devils in team history is…
The Philadelphia 76ers. They have had 10 Duke players in their history:
The Chicago Bulls are second with 8 players, the Los Angeles Clippers are third with 7 players and there are 11 other teams that have had 5 Duke players in their history.
With the NBA Draft coming up in June, and free agency, these numbers will surely change.
I’ve included a chart of all the Duke players to have played in the NBA along with the teams they played for. Active Blue Devils are in bold.