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The Best Duke Players In The NBA, Ranked

Zion and R.J. have a long way to go to catch Kyrie Irving, Grant Hill, Shane Battier, and Elton Brand.

DUKE IS A TRADITION UNLIKE ANY OTHER IN MODERN COLLEGE BASKETBALL. And by modern, I mean since Coach K took over. Coach K is of course legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has led the Blue Devils’ charge since taking the reins in 1980. During those four decades, Coach K’s Duke has made 12 Final Fours and cut down the nets five different times, in 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, and 2015.

During that time, Duke has seen a ton of basketball talent come through those doors on Tobacco Road. An incredible 55 different Blue Devils have played in the NBA since Coach K showed up, and plenty more are on the way. That includes Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and Cam Reddish, all lottery picks in the 2019 NBA Draft, and it will surely include more names to come.

5. Luol Deng

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Boozer wasn’t the only Chicago Bull from Duke on those nasty Thibodeau teams. Luol Deng was the heart and soul of the teams, playing massive minutes and a ton of wing defense before injuries and mileage took their toll and ravaged his body. Deng was always one of the league’s top wing defenders when healthy, and he too made a couple All Star teams.

He filled up the box score and was a leader on and off the court, and he’s turned himself into a useful veteran role player as his career nears its end.

4. Shane Battier

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Who would have ever thought Shane Battier would be one of the all time great Blue Devils in the NBA? Battier certainly had the accolades. He won the Wooden, Rupp, and Naismith awards at Duke and was the Most Outstanding Player when Duke won the championship his senior year, and Battier really never stopped winning.

He made two All Defense teams in the NBA and should’ve made more and he was the league’s ultimate 3 and D glue guy, locking down opponents and hitting 38% of his threes. Battier was an all time great role player and deserved every bit of the two championship rings he earned with the Miami Heat near the end of his career.

3. Elton Brand

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Can we get one more Chicago Bulls Dukie for the road? Elton Brand might be one of the all time underrated modern players. He put up 20/10 like clockwork year after year for the Bulls and Clippers the first eight seasons of his career before a torn Achilles stole his age 28 season, and Brand was never the same player again. Brand was th 2000 Rookie of the Year and somehow made only two All Star teams and just one

All NBA squad when he should have been a contender all eight of those early years. He was on pace to go down as a top ten all time power forward before the injury.

2. Kyrie Irving

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Kyrie Irving only ever played 11 games for Duke, but he remains one of the all time NBA Blue Devils. Kyrie is one of the game’s elite point guards with perhaps the best handle in the world. He is a six time All Star and just made his second All NBA team, and he was the 2012 Rookie of the Year.

He also hit the clutch three point shot over Steph Curry to help the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers win the championship over the 73–9 Golden State Warriors — and if you don’t know how much it hurts me to write that sentence lauding a Duke, then you don’t know me at all. Oh and by the way, Kyrie Irving is still just getting started. He’s still only 27 years old.

1. Grant Hill

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Still, even Kyrie Irving can’t quite touch the greatest Duke NBA player of all time, Grant Hill. Hill is finally a Hall of Famer, and his induction was long overdue. Hill was the 1995 Rookie of the Year and broke the mold of what a small forward could do in the modern NBA, averaging 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists as a point forward for the Detroit Pistons.

He was LeBron before LeBron existed. Hill finished top 10 in MVP voting five straight years including one third place finish when he led the league in VORP (Value Over Replacement Player). He made All NBA all five of those seasons and was selected as an All Star seven times, and he would’ve been one of the greatest small forwards in NBA history if a myriad of injuries hadn’t derailed his career at age 28 and forward. Hill was a great defender and contributed in every way on the court. He is the greatest Duke NBA of all time.

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