Duke Players in the NBA (With Notable Mentions)

Duke University has certainly held its position as one of the most outstanding college basketball teams in the US. The NBA has drafted almost 100 players from Duke's college basketball program.

However, you probably would not readily find any Duke players in the NBA's top 20 basketball players of all time. Duke has one of the highest players drafted in the NBA, only behind UCLA, Kentucky, and North Carolina. 

The Duke basketball team, fondly called the Blue Devils, are currently the fourth in the number of wins of all NCAA men's teams. The college program in itself has experienced tremendous success in collegiate leagues throughout the US.

Furthermore, Duke has garnered some impressive accolades with five NCAA Championships won and 11 appearances in the championship game.

Some statistics show that college basketball has a higher viewership than the NBA in North Carolina (where Duke is located). Also worthy of note is that Duke's present coach Mike Krzyzewski has had more Duke players drafted into the NBA than any other coach.

Nicknamed Coach K, the coach has coached 67 players drafted into the NBA, with over 40 drafted in the first round.

In this article, we'll be shining a spotlight on some of the most prominent Blue Devils that ever played in the NBA. First, let's look at the Duke players currently in the NBA.

Duke Players Currently in the NBA

At the end of the 2021 draft, Duke has a whopping 23 active players in the NBA. Here's a list of them in no particular order.

  • Jalen Johnson (Atlanta Hawks)

  • Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)

  • Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans)

  • Mason Plumlee(Charlotte Hornets)

  • Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)

  • Jabari Parker (Boston Celtics)

  • Justice Winslow (Los Angeles Clippers)

  • Austin Rivers (Denver Nuggets)

  • Gary Trent Jr. (Toronto Raptors)

  • Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings)

  • Seth Curry (Philadelphia Sixers)

  • Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans)

  • Luke Kennard (Los Angeles Clippers)

  • Rodney Hood (Milwaukee Bucks)

  • Wendell Carter Jr. (Orlando Magic)

  • Tyus Jones (Memphis Grizzlies)

  • R.J Barrett (New York Knicks)

  • Cam Reddish(Atlanta Hawks)

  • Grayson Allen (Milwaukee Bucks)

  • Frank Jackson (Detroit Pistons)

  • Vernon Carey Jr. (Charlotte Hornets)

  • Semi Ojeleye (Milwaukee Bucks)

  • Tre Jones (San Antonio Spurs)

All-Time Notable Duke Players


1. Christian Laettner

Born: 17 August 1969

Time at Duke: 1988-1992

Playing Career: 1992-2012

Position: Power forward/ Center 

Christian Laettner was drafted to the NBA from Duke in 1992. With a height of 6 ft 11, he was drafted third overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The New York native is regarded as having one of the most outstanding careers in college basketball.

His success in the NBA, however, was not quite as remarkable. He played professionally for several teams in the NBA till 2005 and returned for a stint with the Jacksonville Giants in 2011.

After his draft into the NBA in 1992, he made the All-Rookie First Team in 1993. This came just after his best season (1996-1997), where he averaged 18.1 points per game and 8.8 rebounds.

After four years with the Timberwolves, Laettner was traded multiple times, not spending four years in any other team. He played briefly for the Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards, among others, before retiring in 2012.

Career Statistics

Points - 11,121 (12.8 average)

Rebounds - 5,806 (6.7 average)

Assists - 2,224 (2.6 average)

Professional Career Achievements

1X NBA All-Star (1997)

NBA All-Rookie First Team (1993)

2. Carlos Boozer

Born: 20 November 1981

Time at Duke: 1999-2002

Playing Career: 2002-2017

Position: Power forward

Carlos Austin Boozer Jr. was a second-round pick of the 2002 NBA draft. His NBA career spanned 15 years after being picked 35th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unlike many, Carlos Boozer declared for the NBA draft in his third year, thus forfeiting his eligibility for his college final year. 

Although Carlos was picked 35th overall, his career performance outshined his slot at the draft. After his rookie campaign, Boozer averaged 15.5 points per game and over 11 rebounds.

After a 2-year campaign at Cleveland, Boozer joined the Utah Jazz in 2004 after a controversy concerning his free agency. However, he had a shaky start with Utah Jazz, suffering an injury midway into the 2005-2006 season. 

As the next season approached, Boozer suffered yet another injury. He later recovered fully and returned to play in the middle of the season, where he recorded astounding performances. Carlos averaged over 20 points per game and over nine rebounds.

Before his injury, he only averaged 17 points per game with nine rebounds. He recorded a career-high in the 2009 - 2010 season, shooting 56.2% from the field.

Afterward, Boozer played for the Chicago Bulls and briefly for the Los Angeles Lakers. He finally retired in 2017 after playing internationally for Guangdong Southern Tigers in China for over a year.

Career Statistics

Points- 13,976 (16.2 average)

Rebounds- 8,129 (9.5 average)

Assists- 1,928 (2.2 average)

Professional Career Achievements

All NBA third team (2008)

2X NBA All-Star (2007 and 2008)

NBA All-Rookie Second Team (2003)

3. Grant Hill

Born: 5 October 1972

Time at Duke: 1990-1994

Playing Career: 1994-2013

Position: Small forward

Grant Hill is regarded as having one of the most successful collegiate careers in his era. With record-breaking stats in his college career, it's no wonder he was the third pick in the 1994 NBA draft.

Hill was drafted by the Detroit Pistons, where he averaged almost 20 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in his first year.

Hill's professional career lasted 19 seasons, 6 of which he played with the Detroit Pistons. He also won the NBA Rookie of the Year alongside Jason Kidd of the Dallas Mavericks.

At his retirement in June 2013, Hill had garnered over 17,000 points, over 6,000 rebounds, and over 4,000 assists. Thus, making him one of the only 17 players in NBA history to achieve that feat. 

Hill later joined the Orlando Magic in 2000, spending seven seasons there. His career at the Magic was painfully fraught with injuries, and thus causing him to play in only four games in his first season with the Magic.

However, as the seasons progressed, he saw more time on the court. Hill went on to play with the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers before finally retiring in 2013.

Career Statistics

Points- 17,173 (16.7 average)

Rebounds- 6,169 (6.0 average)

Assists- 4,252 (4.1 average)

Professional Career Achievements

7X NBA All-Star (1995,1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005)

All NBA first team (1997)

4X NBA Second team (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000)

NBA Rookie of the Year (1995)

IBM Award (1997)

4. Elton Brand

Born: 11 March 1979

Time at Duke: 1997-1999

Playing Career: 1999-2016

Position: Power forward / Center

Brand was an outstanding player at the Duke’s 1998 - 1999 team, widely regarded as one of the greatest all-time Duke teams. After spending just two years at Duke, coached by Coach K, he left Duke and declared for the 1999 draft. He became the first overall pick for the Chicago Bulls. 

After a year with the Bulls, he averaged over 20 points per game and ten rebounds. Two seasons later, he joined the Los Angeles Clippers. 

In his second year with the Clippers, he was selected to the NBA All-Star team. After a reasonably successful campaign with the Los Angeles Clippers, he later joined the Philadelphia 76ers in 2008. 

In his fourth season with the 76ers in 2011, he scored 33 points in a game against the New York Knicks. This achievement was the most points he had ever made in a game in his career.

Brand retired from professional basketball in 2015 after a short time playing with the Atlanta Hawks. In 2016 however, he came out of retirement to play for the 76ers after being convinced by his college coach. In October of the same year, he announced that he was finally retiring from professional basketball.

Career Statistics

Points- 16,827 (15.9 average)

Rebounds- 9,040 (8.5 average)

Blocks- 1,828 (1.7 average)

Professional Career Achievements

2X NBA All-Star (2002, 2006)

All NBA Second team (2006)

NBA Rookie of the Year (2000)

Conclusion: Duke NBA Players

No doubt, the list of Duke players in the NBA does have many outstanding talents. We’ve managed to squeeze in some of the most prominent names.

However, there are still a few players with careers worthy of note. Some of them include Shane Battier, Bobby Hudley, and Jason Williams, to name a few.

With several more talented players from high school teams opting for Duke, it’s evident that there would be more outstanding talent from Duke drafted to the NBA in the future.

Joshua Bast

My name is Joshua Bast and I have been playing basketball ever since I was 7 years old. I love the game play, I love the feeling whenever I score a basket, but what made me fell in love was the camaraderie with my team mates. This blog is dedicated to help any up-and-coming basketball players maximize their potential.

Joshua Bast