Duke Basketball: Brotherhood set to seize rule over NBA from UK by 2020

Considering the current crop of youthful former Duke basketball players performing on the biggest stage -- and the ones soon on the way -- Kentucky has its hands full in keeping #TheBrotherhood from soon seizing the crown as the king of the NBA.

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(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Duke basketball

Gone are the days of rival fans snickering at Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski's inability to produce a sizeable quantity of quality NBA talent.

That reminder is primarily directed at fans of other ACC programs.

Without the existence of 25 former Blue Devils, the ACC would not lead all other conferences with its 78 former players who have seen action in at least one NBA game this season (Pac-12 is second with 65). Without those Blue Devils, the ACC's count would only be average amongst power conferences.

Those 25 members of #TheBrotherhood constitute the lion's share of the ACC's 78.

The school with the next highest total, UNC, has less than half of Duke's amount.

Yep, only 12 Tar Heels have played in an NBA game this season.


And no other ACC school has more than seven.


OK, now that it's clear the comparison with other ACC schools is no comparison at all, it's time to take a look at how former Duke Blue Devils stack up against former Kentucky Wildcats in the league.

In terms of the tally of guys who have played so far this season, the Wildcats only outnumber the Blue Devils by one.

However, in terms of the total points that each program's alums (including anyone who transferred to or from each program) have scored this season, Kentucky holds an advantage of 9,887 to Duke's 6,370.

Obviously, points don't tell the whole story. And injuries -- such as the one to former Wildcat DeMarcus Cousins -- affect the numbers.

That being said, looking at the total number of guys who have played this season and the total points they've combined to score just seems to be the most effective way to simply quantify the difference that Duke must overcome in order to exceed Kentucky's current footprint on the NBA.

But here's why it should happen -- click "NEXT" below -- by this time next year...

Brotherhood experiencing a youth movement

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(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Barring injury, current Duke basketball freshmen Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett -- projected by most to be the top two picks in the 2019 NBA Draft -- will be great straight out the gate as rookies next season.

It would be no surprise if each averages more than 20 points right away. Anyone who doesn't believe that is possible needs to go back and review tape of the Blue Devils' first 12 games.

Fellow freshman Cam Reddish's smooth stroke, 7-foot-1 wingspan, and silky moves point to his promising professional future. And freshman point guard Tre Jones -- although Duke basketball fans yearn to see him stay in Durham another year -- is likely to find himself as part of a regular rotation for a lucky NBA squad next season.

ALSO READ: NBA's 2019 resolutions don't include ignoring Tre Jones

As for Duke's 25 former players who have appeared in at least one NBA game thus far this season, only four are over the age of 30 (J.J. Redick, Luol Deng, Miles Plumlee, and Lance Thomas). And the oldest of the bunch, Redick, seems to have taken a sip of some sort of reverse-aging juice.

ALSO READ: J.J. Redick setting NBA record for aging like whiskey

As for the guys in their 20s, almost all of their stocks are on the rise.

The Boston Celtics' Kyrie Irving, 26, is about to reach his prime. His 20-year-old teammate, Jayson Tatum, appears primed to be an MVP candidate in the near future.

ALSO READ: Brotherhood goes for 80 in one Christmas Day clash

Then there's 22-year-old Justise Winslow. After three ho-hum injury-riddled seasons, the former national champ has shined as of late in his new role as the starting point guard of the Miami Heat.

Speaking of point guards, the Minnesota Timberwolves' Tyus Jones, 22, is making a strong case for more minutes by leading the league -- by a longshot -- in the following three ratios: assist-to-turnover, steal-to-turnover, and steal-to-foul.

ALSO READ: Tyus Jones puts rest of NBA to shame in key metrics

Meanwhile, out in Los Angeles, 21-year-old Brandon Ingram is averaging 16.0 points while learning from the best: LeBron James.

Also out in the Golden State, Quinn Cook, 25, is a beloved member of the Warriors whose scoring average almost reached 10 last season and sits at 7.6 this season.

If this was an article about former UNC players in the NBA, it would be finished by now. But it's not. And there are so many more former Duke basketball players in the NBA -- click "NEXT" below -- that won't fit on this slide...

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Brotherhood's youth movement (part two)

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(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

There's 26-year-old Rodney Hood hiding out in Cleveland while averaging 12.6 points this season.

There's 19-year-old  Wendell Carter Jr. and 23-year-old Jabari Parker, who both need to find a way out of what is becoming an ugly situation in Chicago. Their coach benched Parker -- maybe permanently -- a few weeks ago and benched Carter Jr. during the second half of a loss last night (the rookie is still averaging 10.4 points and 6.9 rebounds).

There's 19-year-old Marvin Bagley III and 20-year-old Harry Giles, who are both a part of the equation for the future of the Sacramento Kings.

There's Tar Heel-killer Austin Rivers, 26, who is settling in nicely with his new squad in Houston.

ALSO READ: Austin Rivers comes up clutch in debut for Rockets

There's Luke Kennard, 22, regularly lighting it up for Detroit despite not getting the playing time that he deserves.

There's the Denver Nuggets' Mason Plumlee, 28, consistently prowling the paint for blocks, boards, and buckets.

There's another 28-year-old, Seth Curry, who is shooting nearly 60 percent from beyond the arc across his last 11 appearances for the Portland Trail Blazers.

ALSO READ: Seth Curry catching fire from downtown for Portland

Then there are whippersnappers like 23-year-old Jahlil Okafor, 23-year-old Grayson Allen, 20-year-old Frank Jackson, and 19-year-old Gary Trent Jr., all of whom have the potential to see a boost in playing time before 2020 arrives.

Yes, there's also plenty of talented youngsters in the league who once played for Kentucky. And there are several prospects amongst the current Wildcats.

But don't forget those Wildcats lost by 34 to the current Blue Devils two months ago.

And don't forget that there is nobody else on the planet like Zion (a strong candidate to be Rookie of the Year next season and to become the game's GOAT within the next decade).

Enough said.

Just check back with Ball Durham this time next year to see a recap of #TheBrotherhood seizing rule over the NBA from UK.

Next: Celebrities who love Duke basketball

Stay tuned to Ball Durham all season long for coverage of highlight performances by former Blue Devils in the NBA.