The stars were out this weekend in Atlanta, and several former Blue Devils put on a show during the NBA All-Star Game.
Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets
The 10-year pro and seven-time All-Star started in the backcourt for Team Durant in Sunday night’s All-Star Game, as Brooklyn Nets teammate Kevin Durant selected the star guard and former Duke standout with the second pick of the draft. While Team LeBron came out victorious 170-150, Irving did his best to keep his team competitive with an efficient 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting and a team-high 12 assists. As the season resumes this week, Irving’s Nets look to take over the top spot in the Eastern Conference from the Philadelphia 76ers and Irving continues his quest for a second NBA championship.
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
The third overall pick in 2017 earned his first All-Star starting nod Sunday, replacing injured captain Kevin Durant in the frontcourt. The 23-year old youngster, now having earned All-Star honors twice in his short career, poured in 21 points and seven assists in just 17 minutes for Team Durant in the loss. Despite Tatum’s stellar start to the season—the former Blue Devil is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, and assists—his Boston Celtics will look to climb the standings when the season resumes after a rocky start that has them fighting to remain above .500.
Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
In what will likely be the first of many All-Star appearances for the budding superstar, Williamson earned the surprise start for Team Durant after Joel Embiid entered the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols early Sunday morning. As the youngest player to suit up at just 20 years old, Williamson dazzled with the expected assortment of impressive dunks, even throwing down a pair lobs from his older Blue Devil teammates, Irving and Tatum. The Pelicans star finished with 10 points in just 14 minutes, perhaps because he, along with fellow former Blue Devils Brandon Ingram and JJ Redick, is gearing up for what figures to be an exciting playoff push in the season’s second half.
Cassius Stanley, Indiana Pacers
The most recent Blue Devil player to make an appearance in Atlanta this weekend, Stanley—not yet an All-Star himself—earned his ticket to the festivities as a participant in the annual Slam Dunk Contest. Pitted against fellow rookie Obi Toppin of the New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons in a remarkably young field, Stanley entered the contest as the odds-on favorite. Alas, the high-flying 21-year old’s between the legs dunk and forceful one-handed jam left him lagging behind his competitors, as Simons went on to top Toppin in the final round. Although it may have been a disappointing outcome, it was great publicity for the former Blue Devil as he continues to make a name for himself on one of basketball’s biggest stages.
Quin Snyder, Utah Jazz
After leading Utah to an NBA-best 27-9 record at the break, the beloved former Duke guard and assistant coach earned the right to coach Team Lebron in the All-Star game Sunday night. It was an easy wire-to-wire victory for Snyder, who helped the Blue Devils to five Final Four appearances in his 10 years with the program. Snyder and the Jazz will look to build upon their success in the NBA’s first half when the season resumes this week, with the top seed in the Western Conference and a championship not out of question for the back-to-back Western Conference Coach of the Month.
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