Record number of Duke basketball products among top 100 in NBA

Duke basketball alum Zion Williamson (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball alum Zion Williamson (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Duke basketball is about to flex its presence in the NBA like never before.

Entering the 2020-21 NBA season, which tips off on Tuesday, there are a program-record 26 Duke basketball faces spread across 17 of the league’s 30 rosters.

With a boatload of sites recently putting out rankings of the 100 premier talents in the game right now, there is no exact consensus as to how many Blue Devils deserve to make the cut. That said, scrolling through such lists within the past week from Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, and Bleacher Report, the answer is five, six, or seven.

Any of those amounts is unprecedented for Duke. Last preseason, the number was four.

On the other hand, only four Dukies are unanimous selections this go-round. Yet that entire quartet falls inside each top 40:

  • Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum ranks No. 17 by Sports Illustrated, No. 11 by CBS Sports, and No. 11 by Bleacher Report
  • Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving ranks No. 19 by Sports Illustrated, No. 23 by CBS Sports, and No. 31 by Bleacher Report
  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson ranks No. 32 by Sports Illustrated, No. 24 by CBS Sports, and No. 33 by Bleacher Report
  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram ranks No. 36 by Sports Illustrated, No. 32 by CBS Sports, and No. 34 by Bleacher Report

Meanwhile, three other Blue Devils are each inside the top 100 in at least one of the three rankings:

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard JJ Redick ranks No. 71 by Sports Illustrated and No. 84 by CBS Sports but doesn’t appear on the Bleacher Report list
  • Philadelphia 76ers guard Seth Curry ranks No. 86 by CBS Sports but doesn’t appear on either the Sports Illustrated or Bleacher Report lists
  • Chicago Bulls forward Wendell Carter Jr. ranks No. 66 by Bleacher Report but doesn’t appear on either the Sports Illustrated or CBS Sports lists

Are any other Duke basketball names close to cracking the top 100?

Though Bleacher Report somehow did not include either Seth Curry or JJ Redick in its top 100, it did list both top-shelf NBA sharpshooters among the 25 guys “within striking distance” of the list. Another former Duke basketball sniper, Los Angeles Clippers guard Luke Kennard, was also on the bubble.

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Finally, Bleacher Report named three more Blue Devils — Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III, Atlanta Hawks forward Cam Reddish, and Portland Trail Blazers guard Gary Trent Jr. — among the nine second- or third-year professionals “who weren’t strongly considered but are worth keeping an eye on.”

In other words, come next season, look for Duke to again reach new heights in terms of its NBA representation.

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