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: September 27th, 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:

#33 Fires Up the Homecoming Crowd (Photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

1. Grant Hill: All-Star, Philanthropist, Alumnus, Producer

Duke legend Grant Hill was on campus this weekend to partake in the Duke homecoming festivities. After being introduced by Coach Cutcliffe at the homecoming rally this past Friday, the high-flying former #33 talked about his love for the university and its traditions. But that’s not the only reason he was in Durham. Hill has been working on producing a full-length motion picture about Duke’s legendary track and field coach, Al Buehler. Coach B was instrumental in helping desegregate track and field in the US and bringing international notoriety to Duke’s track program. Coach Buehler still teaches a class here at Duke (the same one that Grant Hill took while he was here), and still has an office on the first floor of Cameron.

2. Cameras Covering Cameron

Can’t really say too much about this particular topic, aside from the fact that Duke Basketball, the Cameron Crazies, the Inferno, and Crazie Talk will soon be headed to a newsstand near you! We had a pretty cool experience last Wednesday at a certain photo-shoot. Keep your eyes peeled! Just sayin’.

3. Gbinije’s Gballin’

Here’s a new video of 2011 Duke commit Michael Gbinije working hard on the summer AAU circuit. We can definitely see him fitting in well at the wing position with his versatile talents on the court. In the mixtape, it looks like he even did a pretty good job of shutting down Kyrie Irving’s former St. Patrick’s teammate and top 5 recruit, Michael Gilchrist. We’re looking forward next year to seeing this guy get gbuckets.

4. Officially Counting Down to Craziness

It’s baaaaaack! Everyone’s favorite midnight madness event will be here in less than 3 weeks! Tickets have officially gone on sale for those of you who can’t join us front and center in Section 17. And sorry…we don’t take bribes. Get ’em quick before they’re gone! It’s bound to be quite a show, highlighted by that beautiful fourth banner dropping from the rafters. We’re planning on recording it all for you from courtside! Duke University Improv’s sure to have some ridiculous videos again. But, personally I think it’ll be pretty hard to top last year in ridiculousness

5. The Museum of…Duke Domination

We’re pretty intrigued by the construction at the new Duke Basketball museum. I guess the fourth title really helped facilitate a rearranging of hardware. I’m only wondering if all this is really worth it since we’re only going to have to shift everything around again after this season…if you catch  my drift…

6. Tyler Thornton on “The Trio”

Last but not least, we have an article by GoDuke.com’s Al Featherston on Duke’s “other” freshman point guard, Tyler Thornton. You might expect that Thornton would have been pretty sour about being “recruited over” by our superstar frosh point guard Kyrie Irving. On the contrary. Thornton apparently played a major role in Irving’s recruitment and embraces the idea of having a future NBA PG to go up against in practice every day. Thornton also prides himself on his defense, so we think he’ll fit right in at Duke.

That’s it for this edition of Deviled Eggs. Wish us luck with midterm week…but we’ll be back soon! The season starts up in…what? Seriously? 18 DAYS? #Hyped

Deviled Eggs: July 26th, 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 & USA Basketball

Duke players and coaches have amassed 36 gold medals in Olympic play, with that number continuing to grow as Blue Devils continue to make their presence felt in international play.  The school’s strong representation can be traced to the fact that at least one Blue Devil has been on every USA Basketball team since 1988.

What Do the Coaches Think of the State of College Basketball?

ESPN.com interviewed 20 (anonymous) top head coaches to find out their thoughts on the recruiting process and violations.  Be sure to check out this interesting piece to find out which league coaches think is the dirtiest and much more.

USA Basketball the New AAU?

Several current and future Blue Devils have impacted the U-18 USA Basketball team.  The team, which features incoming freshmen Josh Hairston and Kyrie Irving, recently won the Gold medal at the FIBA Championships in San Antonio. That team’s leading scorer- none other than Duke target Austin Rivers.  With such a star-studded cast of high school players opting to play for the national team instead of their respective AAU squads, it’s no wonder that Coach K remarked “We’re moving in that direction,” in reference toward more high school participation in U-18 basketball.

Former Duke Trainer Chases Coaching Dreams

Trinity School’s (Durham, NC) men’s basketball coach, Mike Huff, is a man who knows what he wants.  After all, how else could you explain his decision to leave behind a job where he got to work with the likes of Grant Hill, Jay Williams, and J.J. Redick?  Though Mike enjoyed his previous job as coordinator of sport’s performance at the Michael W. Krzyzewski Human Performance Center, he wanted to coach.  When that option wasn’t available at Duke, he followed his dreams by taking the Trinity job.

Player Survey: Kyrie Irving

When Kyrie was asked to describe himself in three words, he wrote “Hungry, Honest, Humble.”  I’ve got a different answer, “Nice. At. Ball.”  We can’t wait to see Kyrie light it up this season against the rest of the country.

Chris Duhon Giving Back to the Community

Last week, former Blue Devil Chris Duhon hosted his 6th annual basketball camp.  The camp hosted a total of 133 kids ranging from ages 7 to 15.  Read on to see what some of the participants themselves had to say about Duhon and the camp.

Also, a special congratulations goes out to Duhon, who is set to get married in a few weeks.  Best of luck in the future!

Deviled Eggs: May 24th, 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:

Kyrie Irving Ghostwrites for Goodman

Last week you heard from top Duke target Austin Rivers. This week, our very own Kyrie Irving writes about his perspective coming into the season, his take on the championship, and the possibility of back to back titles.

G.Hill’s Redemption Song

Grant Hill’s play has been one of the main reasons the Suns have reached the Western Conference Finals. Although he’s been assigned the daunting task of guarding Kobe Bryant, Grant has had one hell of a season and continues to represent our university with pride.

Seth Curry: “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

For him? For us? Probably both. You can check out Seth’s interview with 620 The Buzz here. You can also hear 620 The Buzz speak with future Devils Josh Hairston and Kyrie Irving. The future is absurdly bright.

Paulus Now to Coach?

So two weeks ago, we mentioned that GP3 was trying out for the Super Bowl Champions.  While it doesn’t seem like that will result in a job, there are now rumors he is looking into an assistant coaching position at Mount St. Mary’s.  Greg was always a team leader during his time here at Duke, and we’re sure he would make a great coach.

One on One with Chris Collins

Coach Collins talks Nate, Coach K, and the 2010-2011 season in this great interview with Clint Jackson. We at Crazie-Talk would also like to give a special congrats to his father, Doug, who was recently named the new head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.  Best of luck in Philly!

Zoubs and Lance Reminisce

…thinkin’ of bliss of the good days. Tupac lyrics aside, these two interviews are two of the best I’ve ever read – from two of the most hard-working players I’ve ever had the privilege of watching. They gave everything they had on the court, and their perseverance was rewarded with the ultimate prize. Congrats to Jon, Lance, and Brian for an amazing four years at Duke. They’ve made us all proud to be Blue Devils!

Deviled Eggs: May 17th, 2010

Zoubek the Great graduated Sunday morning, along with Jon, Lance and Jordan. Oh and thousands of other kids did too... (Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

1. You Don’t Know Seth…

…but his big brother Steph sure does. In this short interview, the former Davidson star (and the most recognizable Curry son—for now) calls Duke ‘a second chance’ for Seth after transferring from Liberty. Seriously, why didn’t big D-1 powers look at the Currys the first time around?

2. Austin Rivers Ghostwrites for Goodman

Apparently, college basketball bloggers love having Duke recruit Austin Rivers write for them. Our top 2011 prospect discusses a comparison to Tyreke Evans and his plans to improve his skills this summer.

3. Andy Katz says, “Duke’s #1”

Thanks, Andy. Duke is followed by two Big 10 20 powers, Purdue and Michigan State, in these very very pre-season rankings. I don’t see us budging from number one too much next season.

4. We ❤ Grant Hill

One of the elder statesman of the League still has it. And maybe a book is on the way? Good luck guarding Kobe, G-Hill! Go Suns, seriously.

5. Nolan Smith Wants It More

@Ndotsmitty’s championship ring wants a friend. Nolan is working out at the Accelerate Your Game facility outside of D.C. this summer, along with Kentucky’s erstwhile forward DeMarcus Cousins (who should probably just shut his mouth forever). Improved speed and vertical leap? Look out.

6. Josh Hairston joins Twitter

And the Duke army grows…If you have Twitter, follow @jhairston15! He has a great background.

Congratulations to LT, Zoubs, Jon and Jordan on their graduation! Hope you guys enjoyed listening to speaker Muhammad Yunus more than I did.

Deviled Eggs: May 10th, 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. They’re back, and they’re better than ever!

Here are this week’s best:

Austin Rivers Diary: On Duke’s Championship Banquet

Duke likes Austin Rivers. Austin Rivers likes Duke. Let’s make this happen.

GP3 trying out for the Super Bowl Champs

How hysterical would it be for all of his haters if Greg Paulus made an NFL roster? And that too, the reigning Super Bowl champions? The kid is alarmingly unathletic. Oh wait.

UPDATE: Greg impressed the Saints coaching staff enough to earn a chance to compete with former Mizzou QB Chase Daniel and Saints 7th round pick Sean Canfield for a spot on the roster (behind the pre-eminent Drew Brees). Congrats to Greg, and good luck GP2!

NBA Draft: Early Entry Deadline Winners and Losers

Obviously Duke won big with Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler choosing to return for their senior years. But more than a few teams returned key contributors to already solid teams, most notably Purdue and Michigan State. National runner-up Butler did lose out on its brightest star in Gordon Hayward, but the Dec. 4th rematch of the two finalists should be more than entertaining.

Michigan State a potential ACC/B10 foe?

Duke is due for a home matchup in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Izzo says it’s ‘probable’ that he and his pre-season number two team in the country will be making a trip to Durham, and we agree. But with the return of Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson there’s also the possibility of playing Purdue.  Regardless, Duke will be playing a fellow top three team this fall in the one and only Cameron Indoor Stadium. It should be fantastic.

UPDATE: We will play MSU according to Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports. Bring it on, Sparty.

Grant Hill: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

The first three time winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award has made every one of his coaches and teammates gush about him. After a sixteen years in the league, Grant has finally made it to Western Conference Finals with the red hot Phoenix Suns. Here’s to hoping Grant can add to his already abundant collection of finger jewelry.

Nolan’s Court

This is absolutely hysterical, but watch out for some profane language. DUI and NdotSmitty are a match made in heaven.