Duke has put a lot of outstanding players in the NBA over the years but right now four arguably stand above the rest: Kyrie Irving, Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Jayson Tatum.
We’re not going to talk as much about Irving here, primarily because he’s an established star and we’re more focused on the younger guys.
Ingram has put himself in the Player of the Year consideration. He’s averaging 24 ppg, 7.1 rpg and 5.8 apg.
Williamson isn’t far behind with 21.9 ppg, 8.1 rpg and 1.3 apg. Both guys are solid defenders as well although Williamson could probably apply himself more at that end. Even so, it’s certainly no like he’s a liability. With both Williamson and Ingram on the roster, New Orleans is set up for long-term success.
Williamson, as it turns out, is doing something unusual (imagine that).
Although he’s only played in 32 games, he’s already scored 711 points. That works out to a 22.2 career average and he’s scored more points in his first 32 games than anyone since Shaquill O’ Neal. That’s also the fifth most in 40 years. Just as a reminder, in the last 40 years we saw Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan and Hakeem Olajuwon, among many others.
So despite the various criticisms of Williamson, he’s on a historic pace.
As for Tatum, the guy has just consistently improved. He’s now averaging just a shade under 27 ppg (26.9) and getting that in 34.6 mpg.
In his last five games, Tatum has scored 28, 24, 40, 27 and 32.
The remarkable thing is that all three guys are producing at such high levels. It’s always fun to be a Duke fan. Watching guys play like this in the league just adds that much more to it.