Program-record 5 Blue Devils picked in NBA Draft
Paolo Banchero goes first overall to Orlando; Mark Williams to Charlotte, AJ Griffin to Atlanta, Wendell Moore Jr. to Minnesota, Trevor Keels to New York
All five Duke players expected to be drafted in the NBA Draft were selected on Thursday night, marking the most Blue Devils ever taken in an NBA Draft.
Duke had a program-record-tying four players drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft on Thursday night, including No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero going to the Orlando Magic. Mark Williams, AJ Griffin and Wendell Moore Jr. were also picked in the first round, while Trevor Keels was a second-round pick.
The four Duke selections in the first round ties the 1999 draft, which saw four Duke players selected in the first 14 picks.
Here are breakouts on all five former Blue Devils selected Thursday night:
Paolo Banchero – Orlando Magic – Round 1, Pick 1
Banchero became the fifth Duke player drafted No. 1 overall when the Orlando Magic picked him in the NBA Draft on Thursday night.
The former Duke star was seemingly a long shot to be the first pick until Wednesday, when his odds to be the No. 1 pick shot up on gambling websites.
Banchero joins Zion Williamson (2019), Kyrie Irving (2011), Elton Brand (1999) and Art Heyman (1963) as No. 1 overall picks from Duke.
Banchero was joined on stage for an ESPN interview by his mom, a former standout player for Washington. A video message from coach Mike Krzyzewski was shown, in which Krzyzewski called Banchero “the most versatile player in this draft.”
Banchero called Krzyzewski the best coach he’s ever had.
In his one season at Duke, Banchero averaged 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, shooting 33.8% on 3-pointers and displaying a full arsenal of ready-made NBA moves.
Mark Williams – Charlotte Hornets – Round 1, Pick 15
Williams was the second Blue Devil off of the board, staying close to Durham as the Hornets’ selection.
The 7-footer goes to a team currently without a head coach, but with a desperate need for a center. Williams is from Virginia Beach, Va., so he’ll not only be close to his college home, but close to his hometown.
Williams averaged 11.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game last season, garnering ACC defensive player of the year honors.
AJ Griffin – Atlanta Hawks – Round 1, Pick 16
Griffin – somewhat unexpectedly – fell out of the lottery but went to perhaps a better fit than teams picking higher.
The smooth-shooting Griffin goes to a Hawks team that has now picked Blue Devils in three of the last four drafts – Atlanta picked Jalen Johnson last year and Cam Reddish in the 2019 draft (Reddish was traded last season).
Griffin got his legs under him during this past season after missing most of the last two seasons of his high school career. The 6-6 wing averaged 10.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 44.7% on 3s.
Wendell Moore Jr. – Dallas Mavericks (traded to Minnesota) – Round 1, Pick 26
Moore was part of a draft-night trade to Minnesota, landing with an up-and-coming franchise that features Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns.
The 6-5 guard from Charlotte had a breakout junior season with the Blue Devils, averaging 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. Moore improved his athleticism last summer and also excelled in a leadership role with Duke this past season.
As the fourth pick of the first round from Duke, Moore’s selection marked the program-record-tying selection.
Trevor Keels – New York Knicks – Round 2, Pick 42
Keels was the final Blue Devil picked, falling to the Knicks – who already have recent Blue Devils RJ Barrett and Reddish.
The 6-4 guard averaged 11.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game this past season. Keels has a ready-made NBA body and his work on improving his shooting stroke since the end of the season stood out in workouts with NBA teams.