Former Duke basketball players making case for NBA opportunity

Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

A couple of Duke basketball products are keeping NBA hopes alive in Canada.

Duke basketball fans have seen many Blue Devils take their talents to the NBA and develop long-lasting careers within the association. That can’t be said for all of the program’s former players, of course, as some have to take a longer approach in trying to reach the pinnacle of their dreams.

Andre Dawkins and DeMarcus Nelson are two from years ago who come to mind. They played key roles in Durham but then weren’t exactly the most sought-after professionals.

Nowadays, two 2017-18 Duke basketball teammates, Trevon Duval and Javin DeLaurier, are following similar routes while excelling north of the border in the Canadian Elite Basketball League.

Both Blue Devils started their pro careers in an NBA environment: Duval with the Milwaukee Bucks and Delaurier with the Sacramento Kings. Due to issues not in their favor, though, their initial stints in the league didn’t last as long as they hoped.

However, that doesn’t mean the window of opportunity has closed for either.

The success of Cameron Payne resurrecting his career with the Phoenix Suns — after playing overseas and being deemed a player not fit for the NBA — should be enough fuel for the tank of any aspiring player. It’s a storyline that Duval definitely should have noticed as a guard himself.

Assessing former Duke basketball one-and-done Trevon Duval

A former five-star recruit, Trevon Duval had a somewhat shaky career with the Blue Devils, averaging 10.9 points, 5.6 assists, 2.0 rebounds, and 2.8 turnovers per game in his lone college season. But he has worked on his game and is making an impact in his new home in Canada.

Duval is a member of the Hamilton Honey Badgers, who currently sit No. 2 in the CEBL standings with a 6-1 record. The former Duke point guard is averaging 14.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.2 steals in 27.0 minutes per game this season.

Efficiency was a huge concern for Duval coming out of college, as he shot only 42.8 percent from the field, 29.0 percent from three, and 59.6 percent from the foul line. Now, he has increased every single one of those statistics convincingly, shooting 47.8 percent from the field, 32.1 percent from downtown, and 85.7 percent from the charity stripe.

Obviously, Duval isn’t facing NBA competition. Nonetheless, his stats are against professionals, many of whom have played in various other leagues, such as the EuroLeague.

It’s great to see Duval making those strides. And although his tenure with Duke didn’t quite go how fans would’ve liked, he can make them proud on the next level by overcoming the odds and potentially making a return to the NBA with a Payne-type comeback.

Assessing Duke basketball alum Javin DeLaurier

Javin DeLaurier has also taken a route that isn’t the prettiest when it comes to fulfilling NBA dreams.

From the G League to the CEBL, he is now having an impactful season in Canada, though. The former Duke basketball captain is arguably the best big man in Canada, averaging 13.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game for the Niagara River Lions (3-3). Currently, DeLaurier ranks No. 2 in the league in both rebounds and blocks per game.

He has expanded on everything he brought to the Blue Devils. Overall, DeLaurier is becoming a more complete player, ready to make an impact no matter what team he’s on.

Duval and DeLaurier were slotted to play against each other on Sunday; however, Duval didn’t end up playing. Despite the missed opportunity of two former Blue Devils going head to head, DeLaurier had himself a game, finishing with 15 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks.

Next. The 100 greatest Duke basketball players under Coach K. dark

NBA success might not be present at this moment for these two members of The Brotherhood, but with their dominance in the CEBL, an opportunity on the main stage may be on the horizon.