NEW YORK—Duke hasn’t produced an All-Star big man since Carlos Boozer, but Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. hope to rewrite that history. 

The towering post players were menaces in their lone seasons at Duke, bullying their way through opposing defenses like few have ever seen in Durham. 

Now, after Bagley was taken second overall by the Sacramento Kings and Carter seventh overall by the Chicago Bulls, they hope that translates to the NBA. Very recent history hasn’t been too kind to professional Duke post players, with Jahlil Okafor spiraling out of control after being the No. 3 overall pick in 2015 and 2017 first round pick Harry Giles yet to play a game in the pros due to injury—although their career trajectories are anything but set in stone. 

But Bagley and Carter are much different players, melding with the NBA’s trend towards the perimeter. Both forwards are athletic and have the potential to be 3-point threats—although the 6-foot-10 Carter has 25 pounds on the lanky 6-foot-11 Bagley. 

On the rebuilding Bulls, Carter will play alongside fellow versatile big man Lauri Markkanen—something he’s looking forward to. 

“We're going to be unstoppable. He's a great player. Someone I can learn from, a great young player. Someone I can learn from on and off the court,” Carter said. “I think we'll definitely complement one another on both ends of the court.”

Bagley will look to provide a spark on offense for a Kings team that scored the fewest points in the NBA last season and finished 12th in the Western Conference. Sacramento has not finished better than .500 in more than a decade—leaving the Kings hedging their future on the 19-year old. 

“They gave me a good vibe and a good feeling about building something,” Bagley said. “I'm super excited to get down there and start building something.”

The Kings franchise hasn’t won a championship since just a few years after the end of World War II, but they now have a plethora of young talent alongside Bagley with point guard De'Aaron Fox and seven-footer Willie Cauley-Stein. Bagley struggled at times defensively at Duke, but was a truly special offensive force—averaging 21 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. 

Bagley emerged almost immediately as the Blue Devils’ No. 1 option on offense, racking up double-doubles in 11 of his first 14 games, including three games with at least 30 points and 15 rebounds. Duke struggled mightily on defense for a mid-season stretch in which it dropped three of four games, but when Bagley missed four games with a mild knee sprain, the Blue Devils switched to a zone defense and became a force to be reckoned with without the ball in their hands.

Bagley returned and Duke’s defense didn’t miss a beat, but the Blue Devils just couldn’t do enough in the postseason to make it past Kansas in the Elite Eight. 

While Bagley made most of the headlines, Carter was quietly dominant after struggling to avoid foul trouble early in the season. With Bagley out in mid-February during the four-game stretch, Carter thrived as the primary option on offense, and continued to be a force on the boards when Bagley returned. 

Unlike Bagley, Carter never struggled on defense, clogging up the paint for opposing offenses and owning the glass. His stifling presence in the post will be much appreciated for Chicago, which finished 28th in the NBA in defensive efficiency. 

With Bagley going to the pros, Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski has now seen one of his players drafted in the top three in the past five years—a record for any school. Bagley’s hometown Phoenix Suns selected his high school teammate, former Arizona forward/center Deandre Ayton, ahead of him at No. 1 overall, something for which he said before the draft he would hold a grudge.

When he was asked if he was going to light a fire and burn his Suns gear, he said being selected after Ayton would just further motivate him. 

“It's not necessarily literally a fire. It's more of a fire inside,” Bagley said. “I'm happy. I'm happy that I'm with the Kings. When I said I have a lifelong chip, I definitely meant that, and I'm rolling with that. I can't wait to get to work.”