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Duke in the NBA: Preseason kicks off with a Blue Devil showdown in Atlanta

<p>Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish all made their preseason debuts on Monday.</p>

Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish all made their preseason debuts on Monday.

After four months of anxiously waiting, former Blue Devils are ready to launch their 2019-20 NBA campaigns. Rookie or veteran, preseason game or training camp, 'The Brotherhood' is already making its presence felt in the league, and the Blue Zone gives you a run down of what's happened thus far:

Zion Williamson, J.J. Redick, Brandon Ingram, Frank Jackson and Jahlil Okafor, New Orleans Pelicans

If his nine minute Summer League debut in June didn’t satiate fans’ hunger for watching Williamson, Monday’s preseason opener between the Pelicans and the Hawks made it up. Starting off the game with a ferocious hammer over Atlanta center Damion Jones, the No. 1 overall pick tallied 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists along with three steals in just 28 minutes to help his team secure an easy win.

Williamson also proved that his chemistry with Lonzo Ball wasn’t limited to practice, as the former UCLA guard dished two perfect assists to the former Blue Devil, including this alley-oop slam.

New Orleans will surely attract Duke fans this season as in addition to Williamson, the Pelicans feature four other former Blue Devils, including Redick, entering his 14th season, the most experienced of the bunch. 

Apart from his reliable output from the perimeter, Redick’s veteran knowledge will also be a valuable asset for the young core on the team. Having not missed the playoffs in his entire career, he wasted no time letting Williamson know how serious he is about the new season.

Redick also made his debut for the Pelicans Monday night, coming off the bench to hit one three-pointer and notching seven points.

The New Orleans Blue Devil presence also got a boost from a new face in town, with Brandon Ingram efficiently putting up 19 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes.

Frank Jackson was able to contribute nine points in the victory, and Jahlil Okafor tallied 11 points, six rebounds, and three assists in just 15 minutes. The 2015 National Champion will likely have a more important role with New Orleans after they traded away all-star Anthony Davis to the Lakers. 

R.J. Barrett, New York Knicks

The Big Apple will pin its hope on the Maple Mamba this upcoming season and it showed in their first preseason game against Washington. Barrett played 39 minutes, rare for any player in the preseason, and led the Knicks in scoring with 17 points with his nifty driving abilities and improved shooting. He also came away with seven rebounds and three assists on the night.

Cam Reddish and Jabari Parker, Atlanta Hawks

Leaving Duke with just a 35.6 field goal percentage, Reddish left a lot of question marks coming into the NBA. Hopefully, his 11 point debut off the bench against his former teammate Williamson dispelled some doubts, as Reddish provided three triples for Atlanta on four attempts and also grabbed two rebounds in the contest. He even made his way onto the highlight reel with a corner three off a gorgeous behind the back pass from veteran Vince Carter.

Reddish’s teammate, Jabari Parker, finished with 10 points and 5 rebounds in his debut with Atlanta. 

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

With Kyrie Irving departing Boston, the torch has now been passed to the 21-year-old Tatum, along with new floor general Kemba Walker. Recovered from his an ankle injury during the FIBA World Cup this summer, Tatum helped his team defeat the Hornets on Sunday with 20 points and four rebounds in just 23 minutes. Tatum will look to assume a more significant role on the Celtics and potentially receive an invite to his first All-Star Game. 

Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets

Irving missed the Nets' preseason debut due to a facial fracture suffered during a practice, but it won’t be long until fans see him in a Brooklyn jersey, as he is expected to play against the Lakers in China on Thursday. With superstar teammate Kevin Durant likely missing the entire season, the Nets will look to Irving for top production night in and night out. Former Blue Devil Lance Thomas will help Irving off the bench this season after switching from Manhattan to Brooklyn in a move from the Knicks.

Grayson Allen, Tyus Jones and Miles Plumlee, Memphis Grizzlies 

Despite the overload in New Orleans, Memphis also has a sizable contingent of 'The Brotherhood' with three former Duke players on the team this season. The trio appeared off the bench in their preseason home opener against Maccabi Haifa. Allen tallied 18 points, three rebounds, and three assists, and Jones dropped a team-best seven dimes, two of which placed perfectly into his former teammate Allen’s shooting pocket. Plumlee also contributed two points and two rebounds in a Memphis victory.

Gary Trent Jr., Portland Trailblazers

Though the Portland Trailblazers haven’t unveiled themselves just yet, the former Duke guard is already well prepared to kickstart the season. Trent showed a clip on Instagram of him dunking on his teammate C.J. McCollum in practice, while his Blue Devil teammate Rodney Hood got the chance to workout at Kobe’s exclusive camp at the Mamba Sports Academy.


Mavin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings

The Sacramento Kings finished last season one spot out of a playoff berth, and with a promising group of young players, they will not flinch in the packed West Conference this season. Bagley will anchor the paint for the Kings as their starting big man Willie Cauley-Stein left for the Warriors in free agency. Last week in India, the former No. 2 pick combined for 27 points and 11 rebounds in two games against the Pacers. His fellow Sacramento big man and former Blue Devil, Harry Giles, missed both games due to a left knee injury.


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