This is the fourth in a series of Duke’s All-Decade teams, as named by various Chronicle writers, past and present. At the end of the series, you will be able to vote for your own All-Decade team, and your votes will determine The Sports Blog’s final choice. Stay tuned over the next two weeks for more All-Decade choices.
The apparent struggles of some of the most successful and highly drafted Blue Devils at the NBA level (see: Redick, J.J. and Williams, Shelden) have provided consistent fodder for Duke haters over the past decade, but the stats don’t always support these naysayers. In fact, at the start of the 2009 season, Duke had 14 players on NBA rosters, the most of any ACC team. With that in mind, The Chronicle presents Duke’s All-NBA team:
G: Luol Deng (2003-2004)
Many have speculated (and continue to do so) that Deng’s decision to leave Duke after one year led to Coach K’s apparent aversion to recruiting possible “one-and-done” players. Still, no one can argue that Deng hasn’t been as dazzling an offensive player at the NBA level as he was in his one season in Durham. Deng has averaged double-digit scoring outputs every year of his NBA career, including a career high 18.8 in the 2006-2007 campaign. Most tellingly, though, it was apparently Deng’s consistent production and potential (the guard is still only 24 years old) that allowed the Bulls to let another talented guard, Ben Gordon, leave during free agency this past offseason.
G: Shane Battier (1997-2001)
Battier doesn’t make this team for his statistics, but rather for his intangibles. Despite averaging more than 13 points per game during his Duke career, Battier has averaged just under 10 points per game during his NBA career and has averaged double-digit scoring totals only thrice. However, Battier was dubbed the “No-Stats All-Star” by the New York Times because his defensive prowess has just as much game-changing ability as a 40-point scoring performance. Battier’s defensive assignment is almost invariably his opponent’s best perimeter scorer, and in turn he has made a living shutting those players down. Just ask Kobe Bryant what its like to be guarded by this former Blue Devil and it will be clear why he deserves a spot on this team.