Jayson Tatum and Brandon Ingram, both free agents this offseason, were given their contracts this week and their fantastic play is paying off, literally. Both were given max contracts by their respective teams on Monday and Tuesday.
Jayson got $195M for five years from the Boston Celtics. At 22 years old, Duke’s one-and-done superstar averaged 23.4 points per game last season and led the Celts to the Eastern Conference Finals. They fell to the Miami Heat in playoffs but came inches from the NBA Finals with Jayson, an All-Star, at the helm. He is absolutely one of the NBA’s best franchise players, especially under 25.
Over in New Orleans, Brandon got $158M for five years from the Pelicans. Just a year older than Tatum, Brandon won Most Improved Player for the 2020 season, as he beat his (relatively good) career stats and became an All-Star for the first time. New Orleans is a team to watch for the next five years: they drafted Zion Williamson in 2019 with the first pick, and are likely to resign him next year in free agency. Brandon Ingram and Zion are the franchise duo that NOLA is riding with.
College basketball starts today! Post on that coming soon.
Duke sent three more players to the NBA on Wednesday night in a draft where abnormal would be an understatement. The 2020 NBA Draft was about 5 months later than previously scheduled due to the hiatus from March to July and was held virtually, with players sitting in their homes as they waited to hear commissioner Adam Silver call their names. While it wasn’t the same, the draft is so special because it’s a literal dream come true for all of the guys selected. The virtual draft was different, but did not lack in emotion and whole-hearted joy. Congratulations to all of the NBA’s brand new rookies. The Blue Devil picks were as follows: Vernon Carey went 32nd to the Charlotte Hornets, Tre Jones 41st to the San Antonio Spurs, and Cassius Stanley 53rd to the Indiana Pacers.
Going into the draft was as strange as the draft itself mostly because none of us really had a clue what would play out. Especially compared to last year, the draft projections were further off. Outside of the top three (who went Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, LaMelo Ball), whose order was highly debated, the rest of the draft was a wild card. Teams didn’t have the same access to player metrics, like a formal combine or easily scheduled workouts, as typically.
All of the Duke picks went in the second round. While there’s an expectation of Duke sending several players in the first round, these guys are absolute steals. It’s completely insane to me that the ACC Player of the Year and defensive Player of the Year in Tre Jones went second round, as well as the ACC Freshman of the Year. The NBA values the “ceiling” for these players a lot; execs look at how high the players can go. That’s pretty obvious in this draft. But it’s important to remember that the “floor” is how high they’re already at, and is also vital to NBA success. We know that Vernon and Tre are big-time players and they’ll show that in the next level. Every rookie is a rookie in the NBA and can make their way to the top. Draymond Green of the Warriors went second round. Quinn Cook, Duke’s 2015 championship team leader, went undrafted altogether and just earned his second NBA ring. Tre Jones, Vernon Carey, and Cassius Stanley have limitless potential and have already shown what incredible players and guys they are.
Tre Jones to the Spurs might just be the steal of the draft. At 41st, he’s headed to San Antonio to play under Gregg Popovich. Popovich is arguably the NBA’s Coach K, and similarly to Coach K he values hardworking players who go hard at the gritty details. Tre is a defensive monster (Cole Anthony would know and he was picked just outside of the lottery) and is rock solid in the clutch (Cole Anthony, and the rest of UNC, would know this one too). As a sophomore he was captain and the hands-down leader of the team last year. He knows how to accentuate the talents of NBA stars. As a point guard and a leader, he was the team operator behind the likes of, oh, I don’t know, Zion Williamson? He set up the fantastic plays of guys like Zion, Cam Reddish, RJ Barrett, Cassius Stanley, and Vernon Carey. He’s experienced and can go even higher from here. Also to note, he’ll join his brother Tyus in the NBA.
Vernon Carey is next up. He was one of the first second-round picks and won’t travel far from Durham. He’s the Hornets’ newest addition. He’ll play with #2 pick, LaMelo Ball (yes, the Ball family is coming to North Carolina). The Hornets are considered one of the biggest winners of this draft and Vernon is part of that. He has a monster frame and is versatile and quick around the rim on either end of the floor. He could see some improvement in FG%, at 57.7%, but that’s still pretty consistent. He can stretch the floor; his 3-point shooting improved over his short college career. The NBA is shifting away from bigger players, but that 3-point shooting will be a huge asset. This is a talented, underrated player.
Finally, we have Cassius Stanley to the Pacers at 54th. If Tre and Vernon are the guys with a high floor, Cassius is the guy whose ceiling is in outer space. As a recruit in high school his athleticism was unparalleled. He’s come even further since then, as his highlight reel from Duke would indicate. He was not the most consistent college player, but that doesn’t discount his potential and he still posted a good 13 points per game average. Cassius could really go places.
These guys will get their first go in the NBA starting around Christmas, at least tentatively. They won’t have the more typical lengthy offseason but they will be as resilient as any class of newcomers we’ve ever seen.
We’ll continue to follow our NBA Blue Devils (Seth Curry is a 76er and Luke Kennard is a Clipper now, by the way) but the new season of college basketball starts in less than one week and we’re beyond thrilled.
Think about this: Zion Williamson from last season (Heisman Trophy winner alongside every other award possible in college basketball for his position, eventual No. 1 NBA draft pick, social media rockstar, dunking sensation but way, way, way more than a dunker) in prime physical condition.
Hold up– Zion wasn’t in prime physical condition last year?
Well, obviously, Zion was in incredible shape. Like, he was jumping from the free throw line before the season had even started. However, it appears that even that isn’t prime physical condition for him; this picture is getting a lot of attention:
Good gracious. Many were quick to jump on the “not in good enough shape” bandwagon after his post-college, pre-draft break, but that’s out of the question. I’m pretty sure he’s doing alright and it looks like his knee, which he injured minorly in his first summer league appearance, is healed up pretty well (see below).
We can’t wait for Zion to start tearing up the league. The Pelicans open in Toronto to play the reigning champion Raptors, sans Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. Bleed blue.
After a few weeks of consideration, Marques Bolden has announced that he will remain in the NBA Draft, while his fellow rising senior, Javin DeLaurier, will return to Duke for his senior season. Best of luck to Marques Bolden in his future endeavors in the pros, and we’re happy to see Javin’s return. More to come later.
Bleed blue. I promise that I’ll post more often starting in June; exams stink.
Zion Williamson has officially declared for the 2019 NBA Draft, as he announced via Instagram on Monday. His declaration is the final of the three expected to come from Duke, and like his teammates Zion is likely to be signing with an agent, being the face of basketball and all. Unless the general manager of the NBA Draft lottery winner is suddenly without a brain, Zion will go #1 in the draft, no question about it.
All we can say is that while this wasn’t unexpected, thank you, Zion. Thank you for making this season as unforgettable as it was. Thank you for making fans across America jump and yell with electrifying dunks. Thank you for being the spark for your team like no other player on earth. Thank you for fighting, fighting, fighting every second for this team. But thank you most of all for being yourself: for loving the game, for grinning and laughing and being so happy all the time to make the game so much fun for everyone. Zion Williamson is every reason why we love the game of basketball.
Bleed blue. Look for updates as Matthew Hurt, one of the final recruits on the list for Coach K and Duke this year, makes his decision on Friday. All signs have pointed to his interest in going to Duke, especially after fellow Minnesota native Tre Jones announced his plans to return to Durham. Additionally, Hurt’s father canceled visits from two of the four head coaches that he’s considering playing for, which certainly isn’t a good sign for those programs (neither of which are Duke; the two were John Calipari of Kentucky and Bill Self of Kansas).
RJ Barrett, the widely projected high lottery pick in the NBA Draft, has announced that he will leave Duke for the next level. The “Maple Mamba” will sign with an agent, making him ineligible were he to want to come back to school. Krazies’ Korner would like to thank RJ, alongside the rest of the Duke fanbase, for his incredible efforts this season and for what he did to help make this such an amazing season.
I’m still trying to comprehend the fact that Grayson Allen won’t take the floor at Countdown on the 19th. He’s a special player of the likes we aren’t likely to see again, at least for a while. Grayson is getting rolling with his new teammates on the Utah Jazz, a franchise that’s on the rise with new star Donovan Mitchell. Now they know they’ve got another star, a gem for that late in the draft: Grayson Allen. He’s a guy who’s all for the team, he’s an excellent player, he can lead guys, and he’s been on a team with about half the NBA at this point. He’s showing out in the Jazz’s preseason:
He threw down that big dunk and helped the Jazz to the win. He came off the bench but played a sixth man role for the Jazz with the most minutes out of those players. Grayson Allen has a bright future in Salt Lake City!
Bleed Blue. Duke Football takes a bye week this week.
People were beginning to think that Harry Giles would always be the poor guy who had a bright future but a debilitating knee injury. Not anymore. Harry is balling in his first preseason games in Sacramento. If you looked at his high school highlights, you wouldn’t be too surprised, but it never really happened for him at Duke just because of his knee.
When Harry Giles was a college freshman in Durham, Duke basketball fans kept waiting for him to turn Cameron Indoor Stadium into his personal bounce house. Unfortunately, knee surgeries in 2013, 2015, and 2016 had taken their toll on the spring in the step of the 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward.
–Matt Giles, BallDurham
I just love that “personal bounce house” line. But yeah, it never happened at Duke. However, he is doing really well now in what has been the past few years’ most boring team of the NBA. Now? They look like showtime. For Marvin Bagley: he was a double-double machine at Duke and the #2 pick in the NBA Draft, but didn’t look as hot in summer league and got shut down for pelvic bruising. He’s gone back to his machine-like ways and looks pretty epic. They lost to the LeBron-ified Lakers but there’s no shame in that considering the development that they’ve shown. I’ll let you listen to Marvin Bagley rap while you think about how awesome he’ll be in the NBA this year.
The former Blue Devil Elton Brand just got a major promotion to general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers fired GM Bryan Colangelo after rumors swirled that Colangelo’s wife created burner accounts on Twitter. It’s crazy because Elton Brand was playing for the (then terrible) Sixers just a few years ago. He was a two-time All-Star in his seventeen-year career, which ended with the Sixers, and served most recently as Vice President of Basketball Operations this past season. At 39, he’s one of the younger and certainly less experienced GMs in the league but we have no doubt what he can do. He’s got potential to work with and a fellow Blue Devil in JJ Redick as one of the veterans. Congratulations to him. Bleed blue.
I found this watching Get Up’s “My Favorite Person on Earth (right this second)” this morning and it just reminded me of what an awesome guy Quinn Cook is. He’s worked for everything he’s got and he deserves every bit of it. Take a look at this: