This article contains thoughts from Ball Durham editor James Stotts. This post was also contributed by fellow Ball Durham writer Thomas Eames. Read his other articles here.
In this article we will look at this ten best current Duke players in the NBA. This is based on their 2012-13 season.
Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
2012-13 Stats: 22.5 ppg, 5.9 apg, 3.7 rpg
Thomas Eames Ranking: No.1Despite being in the NBA for only 2 years, Kyrie Irving is the best current Duke player. He has proved himself to be a star for the Cleveland Cavaliers. It is yet to be seen how well he will plays on a contending team but he has made the most of his situation. He is a great scorer, a willing passer, and a very clutch player. His one major question is his injury history. He has not had an injury free year since high school and he needs to be healthy for the Cavs to succeed. He is a great player that will only continue to get better and will be the leader for Duke NBA players for the near future.
James Stotts Ranking: No.1Kyrie Irving has to be the unanimous number one. He’s only played for two NBA seasons and is already an elite NBA point guard. Irving was named to his first NBA all-star team this season. He was also named Rookie of the Year in 2012. This shows how good this guy is. He carries all the accolades, and will go down as one of the best Duke players on the NBA.
Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls)
2012-13 Stats: 13.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.8 apg
Thomas Eames Ranking: No.2Luol Deng goes under the radar but has made the East All-Star team for two straight years. Consistently playing over 40 minutes a game, Deng still plays amazing defense and is a very efficient scorer. He was a leader for a Chicago Bulls team that surprised many people with their success. The Bulls were supposed to struggle, but Deng helped lead them to the Second Round of the Playoffs without Derrick Rose. Deng is not a superstar but he is a very good player who will be key to another Bulls run.
James Stotts Ranking: No.2This was a hard one. I was either going to go with Carlos Boozer or Luol Deng for this pick, but I had to ultimately choose Deng. Luol Deng is a two-time all star with the Chicago Bulls. He was also named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2012. Deng was injured in the Playoffs, which set him back. He still had a great a great 2012-13 season. I expect him to continue being a solid starter for the Bulls.
Carlos Boozer (Chicago Bulls)
2012-13 Stats: 16.2 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 0.4 bpg
Thomas Eames Ranking: No.3Another player key to the Chicago Bulls is Carlos Boozer. Many people overlook him due to his massive contract, 5 years 80 million total. He is over paid, but Boozer is a solid player. He is a great scorer, in the post and from the mid range. He is not a great defensive player, but much of his defensive struggles are covered up by Joakim Noah. Boozer is a great fit for the Bulls, who will look to bounce back with a healthy Derrick Rose. A good year from Boozer could lead to a Bulls run.
James Stotts Ranking: No.3I’ve always been a huge fan of Carlos Boozer. He’s one of the few great Duke players that had his skill translate over to the NBA. He hasn’t been a all-star since 2008, but he has still put up great production for the Bulls. I think he’ll continue these strides. Boozer turns 32 in November so his better days may be behind him, but he was a constant double-double threat this season.
Shane Battier (Miami Heat)
2012-13 stats: 6.6 ppg, 1.0 apg, 2.3 rpg
Thomas Eames Ranking: No.7Battier is past his prime, but has been a key role player for the Heat for the last few seasons. He is limited in his impact but is a good shooter, defender and leader. He has helped stretch the court for the Heat while providing great defense, which helps Lebron James greatly. He lost his starting spot this season, but has provided valuable minutes for the Heat. Battier is past his prime, but he has carved himself a good role in the NBA.
James Stotts Ranking: No.4You can call Battier old, worn out, beat up, or even past his prime, but I think Battier is one of the best players ever to play in the NBA from Duke. Battier is playing on the bench on the Miami Heat, but he still plays a major role. Battier is one of the best defenders in the NBA. He can also come in the game and knockdown crucial jump-shots. He also was able to win his second ring last night. Battier is a winner, and that’s what I like about him.
JJ Redick (Milwaukee Bucks)
2012-13 stats: 14.1 ppg, 3.8 apg, 2.2 rpg
Thomas Eames Ranking: No.4It took him years to find his confidence, but JJ Redick has become a good NBA role player and potential starter. His shooting has always been there but the rest of his game is finally taking form. It will be interesting to see where JJ Redick goes as an unrestricted free agent. He could start for many NBA teams or come off the bench for a team with true Championship contender. I personally see him attempting to go to a contender, even as a reserve. Either option, Redick will be a valuable player as a shooter and hustle player.
James Stotts Ranking: No.5Redick played all of his career for Orlando, until he was traded to Milwaukee in February. He stilled played limited minutes, due to Monta Ellis taking over the starting role. But JJ was still able to stick with his normal role. Redick is a guy that comes of the bench as a sharpshooter. He’s one of those guys that every team needs. Redick will be a free agent this summer, so I would expect him to go to a decent team and get a ideal situation. Overall, JJ had a good 2012-13 campaign and I expect him to contribute with a larger role in 2013-14.
Gerald Henderson Jr. (Charlotte Bobcats)
2012-13 stats: 15.5 ppg, 2.6 apg, 3.7 rpg
Thomas Eames Ranking: No.5Another extremely under rated Duke player, Gerald Henderson has been very good for the Bobcats for the last two seasons. He has quietly averaging over 15 points per game over the last two years. Gerald Henderson is only 25 and has improved his game greatly in his four years in the NBA. It is questionable if he returns to the Bobcats next season, but it is likely they bring him back. He fits well with Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and can form a lethal back-court with them for the future. Henderson is not a future star but he can be a potential starting shooting guard for a good team.
James Stotts Ranking: No.6Take a load at those stats above. Henderson had a great 2012-13 season with the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets). But there is something you must look at. Charlotte is a horrible team, plain and simple. They have Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to form a good swing of young talent. He’s been with the Bobcats organization since he was drafted in 2009, so I expect him to stay put. Henderson has a very good future ahead of him.
Kyle Singler (Detroit Pistons)
2012-13 stats: 8.8 ppg, 0.9 apg, 4.0 rpg
Thomas Eames Ranking: No.6After missing a year playing in Spain, Kyle Singler was successful in his first year in the NBA. Singler started almost every game all season and provided good defense, scoring and rebounding for the Pistons. He made a smooth transition into the NBA, and now will need to build off that success. He has the work ethic to improve, being called the hardest worker returning from an injury by Duke trainer Jose Fonseca. He can definitely be an NBA role player, but time will tell if he can improve into solid starter.
James Stotts Ranking: No.7For a debut NBA season, Kyle Singler played good. Singler is a player that has a strong mentality. Sure, he’s not the most athletic, and surely isn’t a high-flyer by any means, but he gets the job done. Singler won’t bring you flashy plays or stand out an any way, but he plays his game. He had a good season for the young Detroit Pistons squad and I expect a lot from him in the coming years.
Mike Dunleavy Jr. (Milwaukee Bucks)
2012-13 stats: 10.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.9 apg
Thomas Eames Ranking: No.8Mike Dunleavy is largely under the radar, but he provided a spark for the Bucks. He was a key bench player for a Bucks team that was able to sneak into the playoffs. He provided a spark off the bench and was able to stretch the floor for Brandon Jennings and Monte Ellis. He lost minutes after the trade for JJ Redick, but continued to provide shooting off the bench. Dunleavy is past his prime, but will always have a role in the NBA if he can continue to shoot well.
James Stotts Ranking: No.8Mike Dunleavy is not known to be a slasher. He is a spot-up shooter that plays a valuable role coming off the bench. In my opinion the Bucks are lucky to have him. I think he is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. Overall, Dunleavy had a good season. I would expect similar number as he plays next season.
Austin Rivers (New Orleans Hornets)
2012-13 stats: 6.1 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.1 apg
Thomas Eames Ranking: No.9No one will agree with me here, but I see a very bright future for Rivers. Even with the “worst season ever” (exaggerated), he has shown his potential. Before his hand injury, Rivers game had been much better and he was beginning to play much better. Rivers showed the ability to attack the lane effectively but needs to learn to finish. He has a good floater and will need to improve it to score over NBA bigs. He got off to a poor start but Rivers definitely has the potential to be an effective NBA player.
James Stotts Ranking: No.9When I think of Austin Rivers, one word comes to mind. Potential. He didn’t have a great year and underperformed a bit. Rivers is a great player with limitless potential. Even if he didn’t reach a stride this season, you would have to think he’ll eventually get it going. I don’t think he has star potential but he’ll be a solid starter in the coming years.
Elton Brand (Dallas Mavericks)
2012-13 stats: 7.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.0 apg
Thomas Eames Ranking: No.10Brand has been mostly under the radar, but has been a serviceable big man for the last few years. He played decently in his first year with the Mavericks, but had a small role behind Dirk Nowitzki. He is currently an unrestricted free agent and will likely see a role decrease next season. He doesn’t have much longer in the NBA, but he will continue to be a good bench player as long as he plays. He is still a good rebounder and can provide bench scoring for a team lacking front-court depth.
James Stotts Ranking: No.10Elton Brand has seen his better years. At one time, he was a two-time all-star, Rookie of the Year, and member of the All-NBA Second Team. Brand has been a good asset to Dallas, nevertheless. Even at his tender age (34), he has still been a good bug man. Brand will find a way to stay in the league as long as possible, but I think his production is limited. He will have to play the remainder of his career on the bench. It will be interesting how he plays out in the free agency market.
Others to consider:
- Chris Duhon
- Corey Maggette
- Dahntay Jones
- Josh McRoberts
- Nolan Smith
- Miles Plumlee