A pair of former Blue Devils made their first career All-Star Game appearances this past weekend, while two more battled it out in the Rising Stars contest. From Brandon Ingram to Zion, the Blue Zone breaks down how Duke men's basketball fared during All-Star Weekend:
Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans
The 2016 No. 2 pick has enjoyed an incredible breakout year thus far, averaging 24.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game to earn himself his first All-Star Game appearance. Ingram has missed the Pelicans' last three games with a right ankle sprain but was able to suit up for nine minutes for Team Giannis this past Sunday. All of his minutes came in the second quarter, the only quarter that his team won under the new All-Star Game scoring format introduced this year. While his team ultimately lost by two points in a refreshingly competitive affair, the Kinston, N.C., native was thrilled to be a part of the roster in what will hopefully be his first of many appearances.
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Like Ingram, the 2017 No. 3 pick has enjoyed a career year (22.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game) to earn his debut All-Star spot on Team LeBron. The third-year forward clearly relished the opportunity, backing down Celtics teammate Kemba Walker at his first opportunity when they shared the floor together. Tatum saw the floor for 14 minutes, dunking three times for six points to go along with three steals and three assists in Team LeBron’s narrow victory. Expect many more appearances from a player considered by many as one of the future stars of the league.
RJ Barrett, New York Knicks
The No. 3 pick in last year’s draft has endured a tough season in New York on one of the worst teams in the league, but he has still been able to steadily average 13.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per contest as he looks to polish his game. Barrett is slowly easing back into gameplay after missing nine games with an ankle issue, but looked like his old self as the offensive leader for Team World in the Rising Stars game. The Mississauga Ont., native led all scorers with 27 points while adding six boards and five assists in a 151-131 loss to Team USA. Although the season has been tough for RJ, he’ll enjoy more time on the ball after the departure of Marcus Morris as the Knicks continue to develop for the future.
Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
The reigning consensus National College Player of the Year has taken the NBA by storm since his delayed debut in late January, scoring in double figures every game while averaging 22.1 points and 7.5 boards per contest. Despite his short season thus far, Zion’s efforts were enough to see him earn a replacement roster spot for an injured Wendell Carter Jr. in the Rising Stars game. Playing alongside fellow rookie sensation Ja Morant, the first overall pick had himself a night. Williamson put up 14 points while earning the crowd’s captivation all throughout the evening, from his impressive late-game dunk attempts to when he literally broke the basket.
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If he can stay healthy, he’ll become a mainstay at All-Star Weekend for years to come.