Does an active player own the title of best Duke basketball pro in history?
Counting transfers in or out of Durham along the way, 86 former Duke basketball stars have seen action in at least one NBA (or ABA) game ever since the league’s inception in 1946. Of those, 27 have played this season. Plus, 16 are not yet 25 years old, and 10 would have still been in college this past school year had they not left early.
The above numbers obviously speak to the ongoing Blue Devil invasion of the NBA. At the same time, though, the youth movement adds yet another complexity in compiling this ranking. For instance, try comparing the 24-game career of Zion Williamson, who averaged 22.5 points for the 2019-20 New Orleans Pelicans, to the five-year ABA career of Bob “The Gun” Verga, who peaked at 27.5 points per game for the 1969-70 Carolina Cougars.
Well, in Verga’s case, since several studies suggest ABA competition was roughly 20 percent easier than in the NBA at the time, Duke’s two-time All-American didn’t quite make the cut here. As for whether this top 10 omits Williamson, whose data is extremely limited but whose goody bag contains never-before-seen treats, we’ll add suspense by not giving away that answer just yet.
Now, without further ado, let’s begin at No. 10, counting down to No. 1 (honorable mentions come last), factoring in each NBA Blue Devil’s stats, team success, playoff prowess, longevity, durability, popularity, and when applicable, future potential…