Although Duke has the second most active players in the NBA, they lack the NBA star power that some of the other “blue blood” programs have in spades. With a number of players going in the lottery in recent years, there are plenty of Duke players with enormous upside at the NBA level yet few have seemed to reach their full potential.
With their strongest recruiting class yet in 2018-2019, there is a good chance we see some new names surface on this list over the next few years. Zion Williamson, in particular, could end up finding himself close to the top of this list as soon as next year if he ends up playing to his full potential.
That leads us to the question, who are the five best Duke basketball players currently in the NBA?
5 Best Duke Players Currently in the NBA
5. J.J. Redick, SG
It seems almost insane that given the success of Duke and the fact that they have converted into a one and done machine over the past few years that J.J. Redick would find himself on this list. The last holdover from the old days of four-year players dominating Duke, Redick’s shooting has led him to have a late career renaissance at age 34. Since turning 30, Redick has morphed into a sniper from deep and has thrived in a floor spacing offensive role.
4. Justise Winslow, PG/SF
Heading into the 2018-2019 season, many considered Winslow to be a lottery bust. However, even though Winslow put up inefficient offensive numbers to start his career, his defensive play had carved him out a regular spot in the rotation. With an immense talent that he struggled to tap into as an off-ball forward, the Heat decided to test out running him in a point-forward role and saw fantastic results. Filling up the stat sheet with points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks on a nightly basis, Winslow is a swiss-army knife style player that can impact the game on nearly every front.
3. Brandon Ingram, SG/SF
Another former Dukie that the NBA was ready to label a bust, Ingram instead enjoyed a breakout season playing alongside LeBron James. Especially following the All-Star break, Ingram turned into one of the leagues most dangerous scoring options and gave LeBron a bonafide secondary scoring option. However, a scare with DVT would end his season but thankfully Ingram should be healthy and ready to go for next season.
2. Jayson Tatum, SF/PF
Taken third overall in the 2017 NBA draft, Jayson Tatum is one of the few Duke prospects in recent years that has lived up to the hype – and then some. After finishing third in rookie of the year voting behind Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell, Tatum would go on to outplay the both of them during the postseason and was a crucial cog to Boston exceeding expectations and making a deep run without Max Salary Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.
1. Kyrie Irving, PG
By far the best current Duke player in the NBA, Kyrie Irving is an All-Star, All-NBA player, and World Champion among others. After initially playing sidekick to LeBron upon the King’s return to Cleveland, Irving jumped ship to the Celtics where he could lead his own team and has seen fantastic individual stats. However, the Celtics have struggled to integrate him and Hayward back into the lineup after their injuries and Irving’s personal successes are coming at the expense of the team’s success.