Which Duke players will become NBA first-rounders in 2018?

LOUISVILLE, KY - JANUARY 14: Duke Blue Devil logo during the game against the Duke Blue Devils and the Louisville Cardinals at the KFC YUM! Center in Louisville, KY on January 14th 2017. Louisville defeated Duke 78-69. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire)
Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire

Duke added to its ever-growing list of NBA products this week by pumping four players into last Thursday’s draft.

Jayson Tatum (No. 3 overall) and Luke Kennard (No. 12) are the program’s newest lottery picks. Harry Giles also landed a guaranteed contract at No. 20, while Frank Jackson, at No. 31, was the first selection outside of Round 1.

It was yet another successful draft class for the Blue Devils, but it won’t be the last. A handful of players from Mike Krzyzewski’s 2017-18 roster just might hear their names called early next June.

Wendell Carter, PF

There’s a reason why Carter, an incoming freshman, could have signed with any program in the country. Few players his size (6-10, 240 pounds) are as polished offensively as he is at age 18. That’s especially the case in a 2017 recruiting class that wasn’t particularly deep on low-post players.

Whether Duke plays two true big men next season or continues to roll with a hybrid forward at the four, Carter will have a spot on the floor. He’ll add scoring immediately, and his rebounding ability will make up for the loss of Amile Jefferson. DraftExpress projects Carter as the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Trevon Duval, PG

Injuries have been the biggest culprit the past two years, causing the Blue Devils to fall short of preseason expectations. Of course, the lack of a pure point guard hasn’t helped, either.

Duval will change that.

A consensus 5-star prospect in the 2017 class, Duval will assume ball-handling duties right away. With Carter and Marques Bolden in the post, as well as Grayson Allen and fellow blue-chipper Gary Trent Jr. in the backcourt, the rookie point guard will have no shortage of weapons during what will likely be his only year in Durham. Duval sits at No. 10 in DraftExpress’s 2018 mock.

Grayson Allen, SG

In some ways, Allen’s career has been as unusual as it gets.

As Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones (yes, Allen has been around that long) played star roles throughout the 2014-15 season, the shooting guard mostly watched his classmates from the bench… until Allen became the hero of Duke’s national championship win over Wisconsin.

As a sophomore, Allen blossomed into one of the nation’s top players, averaging 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. That production put him firmly on the first-round radar for the 2016 draft… only there was one problem: The Jacksonville, Fla., native didn’t even test the NBA waters.

Returning for what many expected to be a possible national player of the year campaign, Allen regressed as a junior. Injuries and disciplinary issues affected his play, which delivered a hard enough blow to his draft stock to knock him out of the first round.

Now, Allen is back for a final go-round, in position to once again be a top scoring option for Duke. With Duval’s presence, he won’t have to handle heavy point guard duties, and he’ll have enough talent around him to still get his fair share of open looks.

In this day and age, NBA franchises rarely select seniors in the first round, but nothing about Allen’s career has been normal. Don’t be surprised if he goes in the top 30. For now, DraftExpress predicts him to land at No. 24.




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