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Dukies in the NBA End of year commentary

The 2003-04 NBA season sent a wave of "uh-oh" through the collective crowd
of anti-Duke folks who cling to "Duke players can't succeed in the NBA" as
a repeatable canard. This season was arguably the best for Duke alums in
recent memory. The trend of improvement looks to continue, as well as the
younger players enter the prime of their careers, with the hopeful returns
of Jay Williams and Grant Hill, and with the addition of Chris Duhon,who
strikes this writer as a lot like Eric Snow--never a superstar, but the
straw that stirs the drink. This season will also hopefully end the "Wojo
can't coach big men" statement.

Here's a look at how our boys did this season:

Shane Battier, Memphis Grizzlies (79 games) 24.6 mpg, 8.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg,
1.3 apg, 1.3 spg.
Battier's stats are less than gaudy but anyone around
the L will tell you that he's as valuable as anyone to Memphis' success
this season. As Hubie Brown's "everything guy," he's the player most
trusted to make a big defensive play, get a big rebound, and act as team
leader. Battier will probably never average huge totals especially not in
Brown's system, where the minutes get spread around a fair bit but he has
earned a lot of respect, on and off the court. Shane is also the only Dukie
currently in the playoffs.

Carlos Boozer Cleveland Cavaliers (75 games) 34.6 mpg, 15.5 ppg, 11.4
rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 spg.
Boozer is likely in the running for most improved player this season. Under
Paul Silas, Boozer emerged as the perfect running mate for LeBron James.
Boozer was one of eleven players to average a double-double this season
(5th in the league in rebounding, 6th in FG%)…and the only one of those
eleven to be a second-round draft pick. "I want him as my power forward
until I retire." LeBron James.

Elton Brand LA Clippers (69 games) 38.8 mpg, 20.0 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3.3 apg,
0.9 spg, 2.2 bpg
Brand is probably the most unappreciated power forward in the Western
Conference and will likely never be an All-Star since he plays there.
However, even for the awful Clippers, he routinely puts up his 20 and 10.
He's also, again, one of the league's leading shot blockers. A long term
deal will keep him in Clipperland for the foreseeable future. He battled
injuries early this season, but finished in his predictably strong fashion.

Mike Dunleavy Golden State Warriors (75 games) 31.2 mpg, 11.7 ppg, 5.9
rpg, 2.9 apg, 0.9 spg.
It's sad to see misfortune being a player's gain but the best thing that
happened to Mike Dunleavy this year was Speedy Claxton's injury. Because of
this, Eric Musselman (who was universally disliked by his team by year's
end, and is out the door) was forced to experiment with Dunleavy at the
point. The experiment paid off as the Warriors went on a considerable
uptick in the last quarter of the season. Dunleavy has had very up and down
times trying to adjust to playing the SF in the NBA but a system where
Dunleavy would end up as more of a Paul Pressey "point forward" would suit
him much better. If Chris Mullin ends up coaching Dunleavy's third year
will likely be a breakout.

Dahntay Jones Memphis Grizzlies (20 games) 7.7 mpg, 1.8 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 0.6 apg
Dahntay had a typical rookie year meaning that he didn't do a whole heck
of a lot especially on a team like the Grizzlies, where he wasn't among
the top 12 players. He spent a great deal of time on the injured list with
various ailments reported by the team. Jones may see more action after a
summer league and some additional work on his jumper. He may also make for
draft-day trade bait.

Christian Laettner Washington Wizards (48 games) 20.6 mpg, 5.9 ppg, 4.8
rpg, 1.9 apg, 0.8 spg.
Perhaps one of CL's most disappointing seasons as a pro for the moribund
Wizards. Laettner started in a reasonably strong manner but the Wizards'
brass insisted on more PT for Kwame Brown, which sent CL's playing time
into wild inconsistency. He'd get good run one game, then get 3 DNP-CD's in
a row. The low point of his season was a misdemeanor drug possession
charge, which effectively ended his mental focus for the year, apparently.
Laettner may have a season or two left in the tank (hopefully away from

Corey Maggette Los Angeles Clippers (73 games) 35.9 mpg, 20.7 ppg, 5.9
rpg, 3.1 apg, 0.9 spg
Maggette had his best overall year as a pro this season. He led the NBA in
free throws made (actually making more FT's than FG's), was third in FTA
(behind Shaq and Paul Pierce). His offensive game has improved by leaps and
bounds, even if he does tend to take a lot of shots. He and Brand form the
cornerstones of the Clippers, but they basically have no help. The
franchise ended the year with Maggette injured on the bench and a long
losing streak.

Cherokee Parks Golden State Warriors (12 games) 5.3 mpg, 1.0 ppg
Chief was a bench player briefly for the Warriors. His high in minutes this
season was 18. He was released around the new year, and never signed
anywhere else. Whereabouts currently unknown. This surprised me
somewhat since I figured he'd latch on somewhere.