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Duke Sets The ACC Standard For The NBA Draft

And it won’t change this year either.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 09 Champions Classic - Duke v Kentucky
 NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Duke Blue Devils forward Paolo Banchero (5) during the first half of the Champions Classic college basketball game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Kentucky Wildcats on November 9, 2021 at Madison Square Garden in New York City,NY.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Duke fans with some mileage on them will recall that a knock on Mike Krzyzewski’s program during the latter 20th century was the paucity of Blue Devils who’d become NBA stars. This insignificant assertion was raised by some critics and rival fans in unflattering contrast with Dean Smith’s North Carolina program, known for turning out well-rounded, fundamentally sound players coveted by pro coaches.

The difference has long been moot. In fact, 25 Blue Devils were on opening day rosters in the NBA in 2022. Only Kentucky had more with 27.

The close of Duke’s Krzyzewski era coincided with the 2022 NBA draft this past June. It was in a way a peak moment, a ratification of the high level of talent that infused the program, especially over the last dozen years.

The draft haul – four first-rounders in 2022 (Pablo Banchero, Mark Williams, AJ Griffin and Wendell Moore Jr.) and second-rounder Trevor Keels – exceeded any other during K’s 42-season tenure. Among ACC programs only UNC in 2005 and 2012 matched Duke’s four picks in the opening rounds. In neither year did the Tar Heels contributed a second-rounder as well.

The Duke program has produced at least one first-rounder every year since 2011, the longest run ever by an ACC school. During this century the Devils commanded 33 of 111 (29.7 percent) of all first-round picks from the conference.

They are likely to add a few first-rounders in Jon Scheyer’s inaugural season too. Mock drafts around the end of November had anywhere from one to three Blue Devils from this year’s squad projected to be first-round selections

The 25 first-rounders from Duke in the dozen years between 2011 and 2022 slightly exceeded the total provided by the program over the 30 years between 1981 and 2010 (21).

Four former K players were chosen first in a draft: Elton Brand, who left following his sophomore year in 1999; Kyrie Irving, gone after 11 games in 2011 without clearly developing the intellectual rigor a college education is meant to provide; Zion Williamson in 2019; and Paolo Banchero in 2022.

Art Heyman, who played under Vic Bubas, also was the top pick in 1963, giving the Blue Devils five of 12 No. 1s supplied by ACC programs. Wake’s Tim Duncan was the most recent non-Duke affiliated top gun in 1997, more than a quarter-century ago.

ACC and Duke NBA Draft Picks During Krzyzewski Tenure, 1981-2022
(Duke Included in ACC Totals, Asterisk Indicates No.1 Pick Overall, Two Rounds of Selections Since 1989)
Year Round Duke Players Chosen First Round Duke Second, Etc.
2022 6 Banchero*, M. Williams, Griffin, Moore Keels
2021 4 J. Johnson None
2020 3 None Carey Jr., Tre Jones, Stanley
2019 9 Williamson*, Barrett, Redding None
2018 6 Bagley III, Carter Jr., Allen Trent Jr.
2017 7 Tatum, Kennard, Giles F. Jackson
2016 4 Ingram None
2015 7 Okafor, Winslow, Tyus Jones None
2014 5 Parker, Hood None
2013 4 Mason Plumlee Kelly
2012 6 Rivers, Miles Plumlee None
2011 2 Irving*, N. Smith Singler
2010 5 None None
2009 7 G. Henderson None
2008 1 None None
2007 6 None McRoberts
2006 3 S. Williams, Redick None
2005 7 None Ewing
2004 1 Deng Duhon
2003 5 D. Jones None
2002 5 J. Williams, Dunleavy Boozer
2001 3 Battier None
2000 1 None Carrawell
1999 6 Brand*, Langdon, Maggette, Avery None
1998 4 McCloud None
1997 2 None None
1996 2 None None
1995 8 Parks Meek
1994 4 G. Hill Lang
1993 6 Hurley T. Hill
1992 6 Laettner B. Davis
1991 4 None None
1990 4 Abdelnaby P. Henderson
1989 3 Ferry None
1988 None None None
1987 5 None Amaker (2), Nessley (6)
1986 6 Dawkins, Alarie Henderson (3), Bilas (5)
1985 1 None Meagher (6)
1984 2 None None
1983 2 None Emma (10)
1982 2 None Taylor
1981 6 None Banks, Dennard (4)