The Duke Blue Devils currently have three players from last year’s squad in the NBA, with all three star seniors – Ryan Kelly (Los Angeles Lakers), Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets) and Seth Curry (Golden State Warriors) – finding their way onto a roster via the draft or free agency. How are Duke’s newest additions to the NBA performing so far? Let’s take a look.
Seth Curry – Golden State Warriors – SG – Undrafted
Curry, a three-year standout at Duke, wasn’t selected in the 2013 NBA Draft, but he managed to grab a non-guaranteed contract with the Golden State Warriors back in August. The move brought Seth Curry together with his brother, star-point guard Stephen Curry.
So far, Curry hasn’t received much playing time, racking up just sixteen minutes in four games. The lack of playing time – which, by the way, isn’t that surprising of a development – has lead to thoroughly unimpressive stats; he has shot 3-7 (1-3 3pt) for seven points to go along with one rebound, two assists and a steal.
Curry seems to be deeply loved by the Warriors’ fanbase, but there is no telling whether or not he’ll end up making the final roster. Stephen had this to say, when asked about his brother during Stephen’s ThankUSA Golf Tournament:
“He’s been working hard and trying to get over that injury he suffered in his last season at Duke. I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be in a position to make the team. And if he doesn’t, to go into the D-League and make some noise down there.”
I personally see him starting out in the D-League, where he’ll receive more playing time and opportunity to develop his skill for the NBA level. If he does stick with the Warriors, he would likely find himself at or near the bottom of the rotation, and that is never helpful when it comes to the development of prospects.
Ryan Kelly – Los Angeles Lakers – PF – 2nd Round, 48th Overall
The Lakers aren’t known for valuing draft picks very highly, so we knew immediately Kelly was going to have to fight for one of the final roster spots. Even with the Lakers’ current shortage of talent and depth, there was never a guarantee that he would make the squad.
A foot injury held Kelly out of the Lakers’ first four preseason games, but he made his debut Tuesday night, playing 12 minutes and tallying six points and three rebounds against the Golden State Warriors.
Kelly’s versatility as a forward makes him very appealing to a Lakers team in serious need of bench talent, and if he can put together a strong performance in the final three preseason games, he’ll have a very serious shot at making the final roster. As it currently stands, the Lakers must cut at least two more players, and Kelly is still very much considered a possible victim; he is currently on a non-guaranteed contract.
Still, Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski are great friends, and considering Kelly is a good fit for D’Antoni’s system, he may have a small leg up on the competition if he can build on Tuesday’s performance.
Mason Plumlee – Brooklyn Nets – PF – 1st Round, 22nd Overall
Plumlee, Duke’s only first-round pick this year, has looked good in his four preseason games. The high-energy, high-athleticism forward has averaged 4.5 points, 4 boards, 0.5 assists and 0.5 blocks so far, while receiving roughly 16.5 minutes of playing time per game. He has struggled with his hands, the primary reason for his eight turnovers, but that has plagued him since he first arrived at Duke.
While Plumlee certainly has played well enough to make the final roster, Nets GM Billy King recently stated that he expected Plumlee to spend time in the D-League. This is understandable, as Brooklyn boasts one of the deeper (but older) front courts in the league, with Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez, Andray Blatche, Reggie Evans, Andrei Kirilenko and Mizra Teletovic all expected to see a chunk of playing time.
Besides, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for Plumlee to go down and receive consistent playing time. A miniscule amount of minutes for a team that expects to compete for a title this year isn’t exactly the best situation for a developing rookie to walk into.