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Duke in the NBA: One week in the bubble

Gary Trent Jr. is among several Blue Devils who have had success early on in the NBA bubble.
Gary Trent Jr. is among several Blue Devils who have had success early on in the NBA bubble.

The storylines have emerged after a week in Disney World.

The seeding games are underway in the Orlando bubble, with various players and teams standing out in the first batch of matchups. Whether it is T.J. Warren transforming into prime Carmelo Anthony or Devin Booker shocking the Clippers at the buzzer, the return of professional basketball has given fans memorable moments at a time when they are sorely needed. 

When it comes to former Blue Devils making their mark on the season resumption, a few interesting stories have made the headlines. Let’s get you updated on all things Duke a week into the return of the NBA.

New Orleans struggles out of the gates: Expectations were high for the emerging Pelicans coming into the restart. However, a minutes restriction still looms over the head of Zion Williamson, as the organization is protecting its franchise centerpiece. Despite the limitations, the former Naismith Award recipient has performed admirably in limited playing time, averaging 16.8 points on 61 percent from the field in 19 minutes per contest. Brandon Ingram, on the other hand, has continued to stack his claim to Most Improved Player with 21.3 points and 5 rebounds per game in the bubble. With New Orleans dropping three of its first four outings to this point, there will be a sense of urgency to rise in the standings in order to take part in a play-in series for the final postseason spot in the West. 

Trent continues ascent: Throughout the season, Gary Trent Jr. has been a valuable backup for Portland when Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum needed a breather. Trent’s sharpshooting has spaced the floor and his on-ball defense is among the toughest in the entire league. So far in Orlando, the Ohio native has taken another step forward, filling up the stat sheet to the tune of 20.3 points per game on 58.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc. The Trail Blazers have gained ground on the Grizzlies since the restart, with Trent having an obvious imprint each time he steps on the floor. 

Allen shows promise: Since he graduated in the spring of 2018, Grayson Allen has battled his way towards a clear role in a rotation. If the first four seeding games for Memphis are any indication, the 2015 national champion may have a bright future in the Home of the Blues. Allen’s attacking style and unshakeable confidence has resulted in 13.6 points per game on impressive efficiency this past week. The former Duke captain could prove to be a key part of Memphis’s quest to wrap up the eighth seed and the right to play the Lakers in the first round.

As the playoffs approach, the intensity displayed by the players will ratchet up. Clearly, a few former Blue Devils are meaningful pieces to the puzzle, so it will be intriguing to see how they affect the rest of the seeding matchups.

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