Under the legendary leadership of Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University’s basketball program has become one of the most storied in all of the NCAA. Throughout the first half of 2010, the Blue Devils became the team to beat within Division I, twice romping to final-four glory. They first knocked off Butler Bulldogs in 2010 in front of 71,000 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis thanks to 19 points from Kyle Singler. Five years later, they were the kings of the court once more, defeating the Wisconsin Badgers at the same stadium thanks to a blistering 23 points from Tyus Jones.

The North Carolina outfit is without a national championship since that last triumph nine long years ago and has only reached the final four once in that timeframe. That came back in 2022, when they were eliminated in the semifinals by their rival North Carolina Tar Heels, slipping to an 81-77 defeat inside the Super Dome in New Orleans. But despite the lack of silverware over, the Blue Devils have still produced plenty of quality in recent years. Here are the four best Duke alumni who are currently playing in the NBA today.

Jayson Tatum

Current Boston Celtics sensation Jayson Tatum played just one season at Dukeback in the 2016/17 campaign. Despite being just a freshman, he averaged an impressive 16.8 points per game, capturing the attention of a whole host of top teams. He helped the Blue Devils to glory in the ACC Tournament Championship and was named to the All-Freshman Team. That prompted the powers that be at the TD Garden to make him the third overall pick in the 2017 draft, placing plenty of faith in the youngster. And he wouldn’t disappoint.

Since then, the 26-year-old has rapidly ascended to superstardom. Last season season. he averaged an almighty 30.1 points, earning him his fourth straight All-Star selection, something he would make five on the spin this term. Last year however, he experienced perhaps his greatest disappointment on the court, suffering a shocking elimination to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, despite rallying to overturn a 3-0 deficit, only to lose the decider on home turf.

Those scars haven’t lingered. This season, the Celtics finished the season as the top seeds after amassing 64 wins, seven more than anyone else in the entire league. They then gained redemption against the Floridians in the opening round of the playoffs with a 4-1 series victory before going on to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers by the same scoreline. Now, the latest NBA betting odds make Tatum and co. The shortpriced -155 favorites to claim the Larry O’Brien this term, ending an 18-year drought in the process.

Kyrie Irving

Dallas Mavericks man Kyrie Irving is a one-and-done Duke alumnus, featuring for the Blue Devils in 2010/11. His stint with the Blue Devils was brief but impactful. He only featured in eight regular season games due to an untimely toe injury, but he would return in the playoffs to drop 28 points on Arizona, albeit in a losing effort. Despite just playing 11 games throughout his freshman year, that was enough for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who made him the first overall pick of the 2011 draft.

He won Rookie of the Year in his maiden campaign, before – alongside LeBron James – leading the Cavs to their first-ever Larry O’Brien in 2016, defeating the Golden State Warriors amid an epic rivalry between the two. The pair squared off in four straight Finals between 2015 and 2018, with the trading victories in the first two, before Steph Curry and co. pulled away when they reeled off back-to-back victories in 2017 and 2018. Following that most recent defeat, Irving’s career stagnated somewhat, and he bounced around the likes of the Celtics and the Nets before landing in Dallas to team up with Luka Doncic.


Throughout the ongoing campaign, the devastating duo had a strong showing. They finished with a 52-30 record, securing the fifth seed in the Western Conference, they knocked off James Harden’s Los Angeles Clippers in the opening round, and at the time of writing, they are locked in a nailbiting Conference Semifinals with the Oklahoma Cty Thunder, currently leading by three games to two. With the next clash in the series taking place on home turf at the American Airlines Center, the Mavs have a great chance of progressing through to the conference finals, and who knows where beyond there.

Paolo Banchero

Paolo Banchero had an outstanding freshman season at Duke 2021-22, where he averaged 17.2 PPG, earning him ACC Rookie of the Year honors and a spot on the All-ACC First Team. That prompted the Orlando Magic to make him the first overall pick of the 2022 draft, and he has immediately transformed the fortunes of the Florida side. He too secured Rooke of the Year honors in his maiden campaign and he has improved further this season, helping the Magic to 47 wins and a return to the playoffs after four years away.