5 Duke basketball players among projected first-round draft picks

Duke basketball forward AJ Griffin (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball forward AJ Griffin (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

Recent mock drafts include Duke basketball talents galore.

At the 1999 NBA Draft, Duke basketball set a record by putting four players in the first round: Elton Brand at No. 1, Trajan Langdon at No. 11, Corey Maggette at No. 13, and William Avery at No. 14. But the Kentucky basketball program has since eclipsed that mark with five first-rounders in 2010.

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Now, though, it looks as if the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils (12-1, 2-0 ACC), who hope to remain perfect in ACC play when hosting the unranked Miami Hurricanes (12-3, 4-0 ACC) at 8 p.m. ET Saturday, have a reasonable chance to tie that number at the 2022 NBA Draft. At least that’s what some recent mock drafts are saying.

Current projections for Duke basketball selections at the 2022 NBA Draft

Duke freshman power forward Paolo Banchero has fallen from the top spot in some mock drafts. However, in seemingly all of them, he remains in the top three — along with Gonzaga freshman center Chet Holmgren and Auburn freshman power forward Jabari Smith.

Meanwhile, although there are mock drafts that don’t even list AJ Griffin, there are also plenty now taking notice of the freshman small forward’s emergence as of late in a sixth-man role for the Blue Devils. Subsequently, several have returned the former five-star prep to where he mostly stood before arriving at Duke: a projected lottery pick.

Yet another Blue Devil rookie looking like a first-round pick is shooting guard Trevor Keels. The full-time starter, whose 3-point prowess and keen instincts on the floor have impressed Duke fans from the get-go, is flirting with lottery-pick status on several sites but is either a late first-rounder or early second-rounder on others.

Yes, Duke sophomore center Mark Williams pops up in the first round the least often among these five Blue Devils. Still, his 7-foot frame and high basketball IQ should equate to high grades in the potential department. If he continues to build on his strengths as a shot-blocker and alley-oop finisher while fine-tuning his post moves, there’s no telling how high he may climb on mock drafts.

As for the Blue Devils’ co-captain and perhaps top ACC Player of the Year candidate, it appears most experts now see junior small forward Wendell Moore as a mid-to-late first-rounder. And that’s a credit to remarkable improvements from his first two seasons in Durham.

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more on Blue Devils at the 2022 NBA Draft plus other Duke basketball news and views.