Duke in the NBA Update

Last month we looked at former Blue Devils’ movement in NBA free agency and Dukies that were just starting their first NBA season. With the NBA season well underway and the current Blue Devils taking a few days off between their matchup against Georgia Tech and their ACC home opener against Virginia, let’s examine how our former Blue Devils in the pros are faring so far.

Irving's success at Duke has translated to the NBA (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

We have to start with Kyrie Irving, who was the top overall pick in last year’s NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers and has started off his rookie year on the right foot. Irving has started all eight games for the Cavs, who sit at 4-4, and is averaging 15.0 points and 5.1 assists per game. His breakout performance thus far was on January 3 against Charlotte, when he scored 20 points on 8-of-10 from the floor and dished out six assists in just 22 minutes. Kyrie has produced for Cleveland thus far, but is taking 12.9 shots per game and is only shooting 43.7% from the floor. He’d like to see that figure increase, but I don’t think anyone would call this a subpar start for a rookie point guard that couldn’t spend the offseason with his team due to the lockout. The Cavaliers are impressed with Irving’s progress, commending him for his leadership qualities, which is not something a rookie typically exhibits in the early going. They expect him to continue to grow into an extremely productive NBA player.

Smith's transition to professional basketball has been a slow one (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

Duke’s other NBA rookie this season, Nolan Smith, has played limited minutes for the Portland Trail Blazers. Smith has appeared in four of Portland’s eight games this season, averaging 6.5 minutes and 3.8 points per game. Nolan made his presence felt last Friday night in a blowout loss to the Phoenix Suns, logging 14 minutes and scoring six points and adding three assists. Despite the early retirement of Brandon Roy, Smith is at a disadvantage due to the Trail Blazer’s deep and talented guard rotation. Most of the backcourt minutes are split between Wesley Matthews, Jamal Crawford, and Raymond Felton, all of whom are established NBA guards. This leaves Smith and fellow former Blue Devil Elliot Williamson the outside looking in at times.

Luol Deng will be in charge of guarding LeBron James come playoff time (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

Luol Deng has continued to be a consistent weapon for the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are off to an 8-2 start and are arguably the best team in the NBA. Deng is putting up his usual stellar numbers– 15.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game on a team with a lot of weapons. He has also been huge on the defensive end for Chicago, and consistently has to match up with the best offensive threats in the NBA. Just today Yahoo Sports published an article proclaiming Deng as “the most underrated player in the NBA“. Deng hopes to make his first All-Star team this season, but would surely settle for an NBA championship ring with the Bulls.

Deng’s Bulls teammate, Carlos Boozer is another reason for Chicago’s success in the early going. Boozer has put up a very respectable 14.0 points and 8.3 rebounds this season– not bad for a player that many thought would be a victim of Chicago’s amnesty clause this offseason. He has proved to be a reliable inside threat this year, scoring double digits in all but one of Chicago’s game. His best performance of the year came last Friday, when Boozer posted 20 points and 13 rebounds in a Bulls victory over the Orlando Magic.

The line's a couple feet farther back, but Redick has made his living in the NBA from deep (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

Speaking of the Orlando Magic, JJ Redick has appeared in all nine of Orlando’s games this year, scoring 11.1 points per game. He continues to develop a more versatile game, as he has actually struggled a bit from beyond the arc this season. Redick is shooting just 35.7% from 3-point range on the year, down from 39.7% in 2010-2011. He has still asserted himself off the bench as a threat to score in bunches, however. Redick had 21 points in Orlando’s victory over the Toronto Raptors on New Year’s Day and 20 points in a Magic win over the Rockets on December 26. Redick often teams up in the backcourt with his former Duke backcourt teammate Chris Duhon, who is Orlando’s backup point guard. Duhon is averaging 3.7 points and 3.0 assists per game in 19.4 minutes per game this year.

Some things never change- Henderson still throws some vicious dunks down in the NBA (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

Another pair of Duke teammates are producing for the Charlotte Bobcats this year. Gerald Henderson has stepped up his game thus far, averaging 14.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game. Meanwhile, Corey Maggettehas been effective as well, posting 12.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. The Bobcats have struggled on the year with a record of just 2-7. Maggette was also recently injured, and will miss the next 2-4 weeks with a strained hamstring.

Shane Battier was considered one of the top prizes of the NBA’s free agent frenzy. He found a new home this offseason with the Miami Heat and is playing a more limited role in South Beach than he is used to. Shane is playing a career-low 21.3 minutes per game for Miami and is mainly used as a defensive stopper. He is averaging just four points per game and has made just one start for the Heat this season. Clearly there’s not much pressure for him to score with guys named LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh on his team.

Elton Brand is making the most of his minutes with the upstart Philadelphia 76ers. Though his time on the court has decreased due to the amount of young talent around him, Brand has helped the Sixers to a 6-2 start, their best in quite some time. Elton has played 27.6 minutes per game for Philadelphia this season, which is the least he has played in his entire career. He has contributed 8.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this year and still has some moves down in the post, but you can tell his history of injuries is really starting to catch up with him. Brand has just one double-double this season, coming on January 4 in a Sixers win over New Orleans when he scored 12 points and added 12 rebounds.

Grant Hill decided to return for a 17th NBA season with the Phoenix Suns, and although he too is playing a more limited role, his age doesn’t seem to be slowing him down too much. Hill has played 26.4 minutes per game for the Suns this year but has started every game for Phoenix. He is posting 9.8 points per game on the year, but it is safe to say Hill’s glory days are behind him as well. With the amount of time he has missed in his career due to injury, some are quite surprised that he is still able to play at age 39.

The landlord now resides in New Jersey, as Shelden Williams has been tearing down boards for the Nets this season. Williams, who is playing for his seventh NBA team in just his ninth year in the league, has made two starts for New Jersey this season, averaging 4.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. His best performance came in a 101-90 loss to the Miami Heat last Saturday in which Shelden scored eight points and pulled down 13 rebounds in 31 minutes of action. He did have some struggles in a recent game against the Indiana Pacers, where he went 1-for-9 from the field and dunked on himself. I think I’ll leave you at that.

Deviled Eggs: 8/23/11

 

The team got the opportunity to check out the Bird's Nest, where much of the 2008 Beijing Olympics took place. (Photo: DukeBluePlanet.com)

1.  Duke takes Game 3 vs. China

You all probably know by now about Duke’s summer excursion.  The Blue Devils defeated the Chinese Junior National Team 93-78 yesterday, sweeping the 3-game series.  Ryan Kelly led the way with 20 points, and Miles Plumlee had a nice double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds.  All in all, the team had 6 players in double-digit scoring.  Be sure to take a look at some of the postgame interviews on GoDuke.com.  Now, Duke is off to Dubai and will face the UAE National Team this Thursday, August 25th.

2.  Follow the remainder of the team’s journey with DukeBluePlanet

Outside of the games themselves, the team has been quite busy, from visiting the Forbidden City to climbing the Great Wall of China.  Catch up on all their experiences by checking out our good friend Dave Bradley’s blog of their time there.

3.  Coach K, the Leader

Two Duke faculty members explain what makes Coach K such an effective coach and leader.  They discuss how he creates a strong sense of community and spirit and suggest a few of his strategies for business leaders to follow.  Definitely check out this excellent article.

4. Ryan Kelly, the Beast

As alluded to earlier, RKelly has been on an absolute tear in China.  Even the Twitterverse is taking notice.  Could this be his break out year?  Only time will tell, but we certainly hope so!

5.  Meet Some of Duke’s Top 2013 Recruits

Three of Duke’s top 2013 targets are Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, and Nerlens Noel.  All three are right at the top of the Class of 2013 rankings.  Read a little about each of them and find out why many think this class has a chance to be one of the best in recent memory.  Afterwards, take a look at who else Duke is targeting in the Classes of 2012 and 2013.

6.  Elton Brand Gives His Thoughts on the Lockout’s Progress

And finally, some news from the NBA.  Elton Brand, former Blue Devil, is itching to play basketball again with his team, the Philadelphia 76ers.  So much that he helped set up a team workout for the coming week.  He’s been following the lockout’s progress closely for his teammates and hopes a resolution will come soon, though he admits that might be a bit of wishful thinking.  See what Brand has to say about what he’s been up to and what his near future looks like.

That’s all for this week’s Deviled Eggs.  Hope you enjoyed them!  Best of luck to the team on Thursday, and be on the lookout for more from us at Crazie-Talk as the team finishes up its worldwide tour!

Deviled Eggs: June 21st, 2010

Every Monday morning, Crazie Talk culls Duke basketball news, articles, and videos into a half dozen of the best “Deviled Eggs” on the interwebs.

Here are this week’s best.


Duke Commits and Targets Shine at USA U18 Trials

Incoming freshmen Kyrie Irving and Josh Hairston will be representing the United States at the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship. Austin Rivers, Quincy Miller, and Amir Williams, all Duke targets in the Class of 2011, will be joining Irving and Hairston on the team.

Duke-UNC Pits Irving-Barnes

Oh, what could have been. Instead of playing on the same side of an absolutely loaded team, Kyrie and Harriet will be pitted against one another in college basketball’s fiercest rivalry. As if Duke-UNC needed any more intrigue.

Smith and Singler are Back for More

Interesting to hear that Nolan would have considered leaving had Kyle declared for the NBA. These guys are something special.

One on One with Elton Brand

Although his career path has not followed the trajectory of his former AAU teammates, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest (both of whom earned themselves NBA Championship rings earlier this week), Elton Brand has still been in the NBA for a decade. He came back to campus to coach at K Academy last week.

Mike G Doin’ Work

2011 commit Mike Gbinije did work this past weekend at the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp. He averaged 14 points per contest after measuring at 6’7. He’s flying under the radar, but he looks to be quite the player by the time he arrives in Durham.

*   *   *

I know, I know, that’s only five…but this absolutely absurd Kyrie Irving mixtape should brighten up your Monday morning.

Oh, and if you can’t get enough of that, you can check out another here. This kid is going to be ridiculous next year.