With the 2013 NBA Draft coming live to us tonight at 7pm on ESPN from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, I thought it would be a good time to look back at the last 20 years of Duke Blue Devils in the NBA Draft and where they were selected. I wanted to see if they were selected too high? too low? just right? And how might have their careers been different had they been picked somewhere else.
1992 NBA Draft
#3 Pick – Minnesota Timberwolves
TOO HIGH – Christian was coming off arguably the greatest career in college basketball. The only player to start in four straight Final Fours, win back-to-back National Championships, and run the table on Player of the Year awards, it seemed only logical that he should be a top 5 pick. Especially to a team that needed a power forward. Christian played well for the T’Wolves in his three years there and made the All-Rookie Team. But the T’Wolves overall were just a bad team. He was traded to the Atlanta Hawks in the 1995-96 season. It was during his time with the Hawks that Laettner made his only All-Star team. But again he was traded, this time to the Pistons and torn his Achilles, and then traded to the Wizards. While Laettner scored over 11,000 points in his career, and played on a few winnings, he could never find a true home. He’s too high considering Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning were taken #1 & #2. When taken after those two caliber players, and dominating them in college, you’re expected to have a Tim Duncan type of career. I think if Christian had been drafted later on by a winning team, he would’ve had a much better career. Injuries and personal issues also hurt his production.
Notable players drafted after Laettner – Jimmy Jackson (#4), LaPhonso Ellis (#5), Tom Gugliotta (#6), Robert Horry (#11), Latrell Sprewell (#24)
Career NBA Earnings – $61,485,000
#48 Pick – Phoenix Suns
JUST RIGHT – In the second round teams are looking for players that they can either stash overseas, or maybe bring into camp to provide competition. A lot of times, players drafted in the second round never even make an NBA team. The Suns had just come off losing to the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals, so there really wasn’t much they needed. Brian would never play with Suns as he would spend it overseas. He would play only one season in the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Christian Laettner during the 1993-94 season.
Career NBA Earnings – $150,000
1993 NBA Draft
#7 Pick – Sacramento Kings
TOO HIGH – Hurley had a stellar career at Duke winning back-to-back National Championships and becoming NCAA All-Time leader in assists. He would only play 19 games his rookie year as he was involved in a horrific car accident that nearly took his life. He clearly was not the same player after the accident as he would play less than 300 games in his career totaling only 1000 points and nearly 900 assists during 7 NBA seasons. Like Laettner, Hurley was expected to have a good NBA career, even if there was questions about his athleticism. And like Laettner, I think Hurley would have been better off going later in the draft. I think a team like the Houston Rockets (who drafted Sam Cassell) would have been the perfect spot for him (the Rockets would the NBA Championship that season). The Rockets had numerous veterans on the team that would’ve allowed Hurley to get used to and learn the NBA game while still contributing.
Notable players drafted after Hurley – Vin Baker (#8), Rodney Rogers (#9), Lindsey Hunter (#10), Allan Houston (#11), Sam Cassell (#24), Nick Van Exel (#37)
Career NBA Earnings – $16,950,000
#39 Pick – Indiana Pacers
JUST RIGHT – As with Brian Davis, second round pick was just right for Hill. Thomas would never play in the NBA but did play in Europe and for the Perth Wildcats in the Australian National Basketball League.
1994 NBA Draft
#3 Pick – Detroit Pistons
JUST RIGHT – This one’s tough. Personally I thought Grant should’ve been the National Player of the Year and #1 pick over Glenn Robinson. He was unstoppable and putting up numbers during his time in Detroit that only select Hall of Famers had put up during the same time of their careers. However, because of what happened with his ankle and Detroit doctors, he was never the same player. Had he gone to Milwaukee or Dallas or later would that have happened? More than likely not. Hill retired this past year without even playing for the NBA Championship which is a shame because of how great he should have been and how great of a person he is off the court. People like to label him a “bust” because of the injuries but his first 6 years were HOF worthy and better than most NBA careers.
Notable players drafted after Hill – Eddie Jones (#10)
Career NBA Earnings – $142,854,650
#29 Pick – Phoenix Suns
TOO HIGH – While there were no gems in the second round of this NBA Draft, if this draft were to happen today, Lang would have been a first round pick. He only played 143 games during his NBA Career (105 of them came from 1995-1997 with the Cleveland Cavaliers). He would play overseas but injuries shortened his career.
Career NBA Earnings – $1,268,000
1995 NBA Draft
#12 Pick – Dallas Mavericks
TOO HIGH – While Parks turned a stellar senior year, into being selected in the lottery by the Dallas Mavericks. While he would play 10 season in the NBA, he would play for eight different teams, averaging 7 points and 5.5 rebounds a game. Not what you expect out of your lottery pick. Parks was extremely laid back, which may not have fit the NBA game. Coach K was able to maximize his talent while at Duke, but he never again had a coach that was able to do that.
Players drafted after Parks – Brent Barry (#15), Bob Sura (#17), Theo Ratliff (#18), Michael Finley (#21), Greg Ostertag (#28)
Career NBA Earnings – $11,145,371
#41 Pick – Houston Rockets
JUST RIGHT – He was a big man, who played for a great goach. Meek would never play in the NBA but did play several years over in Europe.
1996 NBA Draft
1997 NBA Draft
1998 NBA Draft
#20 – Atlanta Hawks
TOO HIGH – McLeod only in 113 games in his career averaging 7 points and 3 rebounds a game. He never played more than half a season and was forced to retire early due to injury (a common theme for several Duke players as we all know).
Notable players drafted after McLeod – Al Harrington (#25), Nazr Mohammed (#29), Rashard Lewis (#32), Cuttino Mobley (#41), Brad Miller (Undrafted)
Career NBA Earnings – $4,142,361
1999 NBA Draft
#1 – Chicago Bulls
JUST RIGHT – Elton Brand was the best player in college basketball that year on one of Duke’s best teams (certaintly one of, if not the best team, to never win a National Championship). That was a Bulls team that was in need of a PF and Brand was the perfect fit for them as he go on to be Co-Rookie of the Year. He was traded from the Bulls to the Clippers were he would become a 2x All-Star and help the Clippers to their first playoff series win in 30 years (when they were the Buffalo Braves). Brand would suffer the first of a few injuries that would cause him to miss significant time over the course of the next few years and he was never the same player again.
Notable players drafted after Brand – Steve Francis (#2), Baron Davis (#3), Lamar Odom (#4), Richard Hamilton (#7), Andre Miller (#8), Shawn Marion (#9), Jason Terry (#10), Ron Artest (#16), Andrei Kirilenko (#24), Manu Ginobli (#57)
Career NBA Earnings (to date) – $161,338,631
#11 – Cleveland Cavaliers
TOO HIGH – Langdon would only play three seasons and 119 games in his NBA career averaging 5 points for his career. The Cavaliers were expecting his sharp shooting would be a valuable asset to the team but it was not meant to be. He would go on to play several seasons overseas winning several Euroleague Championships.
Notable players drafted after Langdon – Ron Artest (#16), Andrei Kirilenko (#24), Manu Ginobli (#57)
Career NBA Earnings – $4,499,280
#13 – Golden State Warriors
JUST RIGHT – Maggette probably could’ve gone a few spots higher, but then again, several players like Artest, Kirilenko, and Ginobli could’ve filled in spots between him and others. While Maggette has never reached superstar status, he did turn his one year at Duke into a 14+ career in then NBA. He has averaged 16 points and 5 rebonds for his career while playing for six different teams.
Notable players drafted after Maggette – Ron Artest (#16), Andrei Kirilenko (#24), Manu Ginobli (#57)
Career NBA Earnings (to date) – $89,131,524
#14 – Minnesota Timberwolves
TOO HIGH – To be honest Avery should not have left Duke after his sophomore year. He was not mature mentally or physically for the NBA yet. Another year could have done wonders for him and made him a top 10 or top 5 pick. Avery would only play three seasons in the NBA averaging less than 3 points and 1 assist per game.
Notable players drafted after Avery – Ron Artest (#16), Andrei Kirilenko (#24), Manu Ginobli (#57)
Career NBA Earnings – $3,858,600
2000 NBA Draft
#41 – San Antonio Spurs
JUST RIGHT – Again, not much are expected from mid second round picks. While he never played in the NBA, he did play several years overseas, in the D-League, and for the ABA, winning the MVP Award in 2006.
Notable players drafted after Carrawell – Michael Redd (#43)
2001 NBA Draft
#6 – Vancouver (Memphis) Grizzlies
JUST RIGHT – Shane graduated an NCAA Champion, National Defensive Player of the Year (3x), and National Player of the Year. One could make the argument at the time he should’ve gone higher considering Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry went #1 and #4. Shane has had a 12 year career in the NBA, carving his spot as a defensive and 3 point specialist. He has won back-to-back NBA Championships with the Miami Heat. What more could you ask for from the #6 pick?
Notable players drafted after Battier – Joe Johnson (#10), Richard Jefferson (#13), Zach Randolph (#19), Gerald Wallace (#25), Tony Parker (#28), Gilbert Arenas (#30)
Career NBA Earnings (to date) – $53,299,622
2002 NBA Draft
#2 – Chicago Bulls
TOO HIGH – Yes Jay was an NCAA Champion and National Player of the Year, but even before his horrific motorcyle accident (what is it with Duke players and injuries and vehicular accidents?!) he never seemed to it in with the Chicago Bulls. He certainly did not look like his dominating self that he was at Duke. He showed flashes, but could never put it together. He’s too high because you expect the #2 pick to be an All-Star, Rookie of the Year, and help you compete for a championship…not of which Williams was able to do.
Notable players drafted after Williams – Mike Dunleavy, Jr. (#3), Nene (#7), Amar’e Stoudemire (#9), Caron Butler (#10), Tayshaun Prince (#23), Carlos Boozer (#35)
Career NBA Earnings – $8,713,351
Mike Dunleavy Jr.
#3 – Golden State Warriors
JUST RIGHT – The 3-5 pick range is the right spot for Dunleavy. He has an 11 year career averaging 12 pts per game. While he’s not been a superstar he has had a fairly consistent career. Considering the others in the draft, he selected in the right spot for the right team.
Notable players drafted after Dunleavy Jr.- Nene (#7), Amar’e Stoudemire (#9), Caron Butler (#10), Tayshaun Prince (#23), Carlos Boozer (#35)
Career NBA Earnings (to date) – $67,003,941
#35 – Cleveland Cavaliers
TOO LOW – Our first too low of all the drafts so far. I never understood why Boozer was drafted this low. He averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds on a National Championship team. Considering others taken before him, he easily should have been a Top 10 pick. While Boozer has not many made friends in with team owners with some of his contract dealings, he has had an 11 year career avergaing 17 points and 10 rebounds over his career. He has been a vital part to every team he has been on in their playoff runs.
Career NBA Earnings (to date) – $114,009,736
2003 NBA Draft
#20 – Boston Celtics
JUST RIGHT – While this is the famous LeBron, Darko, Melo, Bosh, Wade draft, there were plenty of busts selected ahead of Jones (Michael Sweetney, Jarvis Hayes, DARKO). He has had a 10 year career which is more than most players selected at this position.
Notable players drafted after Jones – Boris Diaw (#21), Kendrick Perkins (#27), Leandro Barbosa (#28), Josh Howard (#29), Mo Williams (#47)
Career NBA Earnings (to date) – $17,596,758
2004 NBA Draft
#7 – Chicago Bulls
TOO LOW – #7 overall pick and that’s too low? Yes considering the career Deng has had and who else was drafted ahead of him in this draft (Emeka Okafor, Shaun Livingston, Josh Childress). I think Deng should’ve been a top 3-4 pick. He’s a 2x NBA All-Star, make the NBA All-Rookie First Team, and is known around the league, like Shane Battier, as a defensive specialist who often draws the other teams best player such as LeBron James. Deng has averaged 16 points and 6 rebounds a game so far for his career.
Notable players drafted after Deng – Andre Iguodala (#9), Al Jefferson (#15), J. R. Smith (#18), Jameer Nelson (#20), Kevin Martin (#26), Anderson Varejão (#31)
Career NBA Earnings (to date) – $67,382,524
#39 – Chicago Bulls
TOO LOW – Duhon should have been a first round pick. While he is not an All-Star or maybe on the level of a starting PG, he is exactly who you want to be the first off the bench to help your offense not miss a beat. He can score, defend, and pass…all qualities you want in your PG.
Notable players drafted after Duhon – Trevor Ariza (#44)
Career NBA Earnings (to date) – $31,574,077
2005 NBA Draft
#32 – Los Angeles Clippers
JUST RIGHT – This wasn’t a strong draft. The notable players drafted after him would obviously be first round picks in a re-draft, and several of the first round picks, would not be selected. Ewing would have been better off going to a different team, as the Clippers had numerous PGs on their roster, so there wasn’t much playing time to be had. With playing time I think he could have shown teams what he was capable of. After playing for the Clippers, he has spent several years playing in Europe.
Notable players drafted after Ewing – Brandon Bass (#33), Ronny Turiaf (#37), Monta Ellis (#40), Louis Williams (#45), Andray Blatche (#49), Marcin Gortat (#57)
Career NBA Earnings – $1,114,209
2006 NBA Draft
#5 – Atlanta Hawks
TOO HIGH – Shelden never had the NBA career many thought he would after a stellar career at Duke. Many feel he had a promise from the Hawks from the start at #5. I think the Hawks are a wasteland for Duke talent. While Laettner was an All-Star there, many have gone there and their careers have never been the same since (even Laettner’s wasn’t after he was traded from there). I think Shelden would’ve been better off going to a team that had an established big men for him to learn behind and get used to the NBA game. He never got his footing in the league as he bounced around (from trade to signing) from team to team before ending up in Europe. He is married to Candace Parker, so his life is clearly not in shambles.
Notable players drafted after Williams – Brandon Roy (#6), Rudy Gay (#6), J.J. Redick (#11), Rajon Rondo (#21)
Career NBA Earnings – $12,256,869
#11 – Orlando Magic
JUST RIGHT – Redick might could have gone one or two spots earlier, but this area was a good spot for him to go. He went to a team with a ton of talent, and needed shooting. While he battled with Van Gundy at times over his playing time and use, he developed into a very reliable defender and scorer. When given the chance, he shut down Kobe Bryant in the 2009 NBA Finals. During his career, Redick has averaged nearly 10 points, with his average hovering around 15 the last few years. He is a free agent this summer, and should be a hot commodity, especially for a contending looking to add one more piece to put them over the top.
Notable players drafted after Redick – Rajon Rondo (#21)
Career NBA Earnings (to date) – $29,030,008
2007 NBA Draft
#37 – Portland Trail Blazers
JUST RIGHT – Josh left Duke too early in my opinion. While talented, he could have used another year under the coaching of Coach K. Of course during his time year, many felt Duke had lost a step and maybe he and Greg Paulus were part of the problem. Even with leaving early, he has been in the league every year. He seemed to have played his best basketball so far with the Charlotte Bobcats this past season.
Notable players drafted after McRoberts – Marc Gasol (#48)
Career NBA Earnings (to date) – $8,984,297
2008 NBA Draft
2009 NBA Draft
#12 – Charlotte Bobcats
JUST RIGHT – While there were a few busts picked before Henderson, there have been a few after that have had better careers so far. A lot of that has to deal with a) Larry Brown (hates playing rookies so Henderson lost a year under him), b) injuries c) several head coaching changes during his time in Charlotte. Gerald has made the most of his situation in Charlotte which has been severely less than ideal. He has improved all his stats every year and many feel he’s right on the verge of becoming an All-Star. He is a restricted free agent this summer so it will be interesting to see what the Bobcats do. I think Henderson would quickly reach All-Star status on a team such as the Chicago Bulls that would use his strengths to the fullest.
Notable players drafted after Henderson – Jrue Holiday (#17), Taj Gibson (#26)
Career NBA Earnings (to date) – $9,412,847
2010 NBA Draft
2011 NBA Draft
#1 – Cleveland Cavaliers
JUST RIGHT – Kyrie clearly was the best player in the draft. He came to the Cavs at a time when they had lost LeBron James and needed a superstar to help stabilize the franchise. He is already considered one of the best young PGs in the NBA and the future of NBA basketball.
Notable players drafted after Irving – Kawhi Leonard (#15), Kenneth Faried (#22)
Career NBA Earnings (to date) – $10,674,360
#21 – Portland Trail Blazers
JUST RIGHT – This is another tough one. Nolan never really got a shot in Portland. The Trail Blazers had Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton already at the point his rookie year, then they go and draft Damian Lillard in his second year. Currently Nolan is an unrestricted free agent. I expect him to land on a contending team where he can excel, even if it’s in a backup role similar to Chris Duhon.
Notable players drafted after Smith – Kenneth Faried (#22)
Career NBA Earnings (to date) – $2,711,880
#33 – Detroit Pistons
TOO LOW – I thought Kyle should have been a first round pick. And looking at some of the ones picked ahead of him, I still believe that. Kyle spent his first season overseas playing in Spain due to the NBA lockout.
Career NBA Earnings (to date) – $1,000,000
2012 NBA Draft
#10 – New Orleans Hornets
JUST RIGHT – It’s still too early to call if this was the right spot or not. Rivers had a difficult rookie year, especially with the Hornets trading for Eric Gordon and the Hornets trying to turn him into a PG and suffering a season ending hand injury. He did score a career high 27 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Career NBA Earnings (to date) – $2,238,360
#26 – Indiana Pacers
JUST RIGHT – Again too early to tell. He did spend time in the D-League and has several players ahead of him on the depth chart, but Indiana saw something to make them want to use a first round pick on him (to many people’s surprise).
Career NBA Earnings (to date) – $1,073,280
Since the 1992 NBA Draft, Duke Basketball has had 31 NBA Draft picks, 21 of which have been first round picks. 17 of those first round picks have been lottery picks. Of those 17, seven have been Top 5 picks, including two #1 picks. They have combined to score over 120,000 points (and counting) and have earned combined over $850 million (and counting). For the past 20 years, Duke players combined in the NBA have averaged making over $42.5 million a year. That is nearly 75% of one team’s entire salary cap.
Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, and Seth Curry will have their chance tonight to add to those incredible numbers, and the legacy of Duke Basketball.