The NBA playoffs are upon us, which means some of Duke’s alumni are looking forward to the chance to add an NBA title to their collegiate accolades. Among those hopefuls are 2001 champs Shane Battier, Chris Duhon, Carlos Boozer, and Dahntay Jones. What chance do these four have of getting that coveted championship ring?
Shane Battier – Miami Heat
In his first year in Miami, Battier hasn’t put up flashy numbers, averaging just 4.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. His role with the Heat is to be the defensive specialist on the wing, harassing the opponent into bad shots or turnovers. He’ll have his hands full in that role going up against the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony in the first round of the playoffs. Miami shouldn’t have much of an issue early in the playoffs, and Battier is in a good position to help LeBron and Co. win their first ring. In last year’s playoffs with Memphis, Battier averaged just 5.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in 13 games.
Carlos Boozer – Chicago Bulls
Boozer is the most important of the 2001 champs to his current team, and he will be tasked with keeping Philadelphia power forward and former Blue Devil, Elton Brand, in check. The 30-year old big man had a solid season for the Bulls, who played long stretches without reigning MVP Derek Rose, averaging 15.1 points and 8.6 rebounds. The Blue Devil heavy frontcourt of Boozer and Luol Deng should advance the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals at the very least, with the NBA title well within the teams’ reach. Last season Boozer struggled in the playoffs, averaging just 12.6 points in 16 games after putting in 17.5 in the regular season.
Chris Duhon – Orlando Magic
The Magic are a team full of question marks now that Dwight Howard is on the shelf due to back surgery. Duhon will team with another beloved Duke alumni, J.J. Redick, to form Orlando’s second unit backcourt. Duhon will function as Jameer Nelson’s main backup at point guard, and shouldn’t see more than 20 minutes in any game. In last season’s playoffs, Duhon managed just four minutes in one game with the Magic. If the Magic shock the Pacers and win in round one, it will have more to do with Redick’s shooting than Duhon's bit role.
Dahntay Jones – Indiana Pacers
Jones had to watch the 2001 championship run from the bench, as he was ineligible after transferring to Duke from Rutgers. Jones will get to play in this tournament, albeit in a limited role off the bench akin to his first round opponent Chris Duhon. This season Jones averaged 5.3 points in 16.2 minutes as a backup wing for the Pacers. Jones will look to recreate last year’s playoff magic, where he poured in 8.7 points per game in just 16.7 minutes. The Pacers are a class below the Bulls and Heat in the East, but are still a quite potent team.