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.
With both electrifying play and persona, Zion Williamson has collected accolades across the board in college basketball; now, his stock of awards includes one that spans all college athletics. ESPN awarded him Best College Athlete for the 2018-2019 year as expected. Zion Williamson is no longer simply a basketball star, but has been for a while an ambassador of our sport to the world.
Congratulations, yet again, to Zion on one of the most incredible college years we’ve been lucky enough to witness. New Orleans has gained a phenomenal young player and man and he’ll always be part of The Brotherhood.
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).
Instead of the season that would’ve been, this season is always going to have that part that could have been. An incredible season ended in heartbreak for the Duke Blue Devils of 2019 as a go-ahead three-pointer from Michigan State’s Kenny Goins put the Spartans ahead by two– for good. We’ve had an amazing time with this team and there will never, ever be anything else like them.
Duke came back from down 7 to go up 9 in the first half after a sluggish start. However, MSU went on a 13-0 run to end the first. These kinds of games are so difficult to swallow because any one play– any one– could’ve changed the outcome completely. It was back and forth to the very end from there. Cassius Winston, Michigan State’s veteran point guard, went off for 20 points and 10 assists. For Duke, Zion Williamson had 24 points and 14 rebounds while teammate and roommate RJ Barrett had 21. Tre Jones struggled offensively with 4 points and 5 assists.
I haven’t brought myself to watch it, but if you want to here it is. RJ Barrett consoles Tre Jones in the locker room after the game. Tre had Cassius Winston on the final inbound, who ultimately ended up running out the clock. Tre and his family have been through so much emotionally– his mother’s cancer diagnosis, primarily– and for it to end like this is just heart-wrenching.
Now, for the excruciating wait: Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Tre Jones all have huge decisions to make. Two of them seem pretty straightforward as Zion and RJ could be the two first picks in the draft this year. Cam’s performance this year (love him, but it’s true) has been inconsistent but his potential puts him as even a possible lottery pick. He’s an underrated defender and has one of the most beautiful shots we’ve ever seen. Tre is projected in possibly even the first round but could return to work on his offensive skillset as a scorer, something he hasn’t done a lot this season though what his defense have done for us this season is inestimable.
Bleed blue. Thank you to all of our Blue Devils for making this season simply unforgettable.