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Duke in the NBA: Former Blue Devils find new homes, have big games heading into All-Star break

Vernon Carey Jr. was recently traded to the Washington Wizards.
Vernon Carey Jr. was recently traded to the Washington Wizards.

With former Duke basketball standouts in the NBA continuing to impress, the Blue Zone keeps you up to date heading into the All-Star break:

Winslow, Carey find new homes

Justise Winslow—a 2015 national champion at Duke—was traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Portland Trail Blazers at last week's deadline. So far, Winslow has gotten off to a very good start in Portland, averaging 12.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game on an efficient 46% shooting clip from the field in six games with the team. The Trail Blazers have had an eventful season with injuries and player movement at the trade deadline, making now a great time for Winslow to see significant playing time. In his six games with Portland so far, he has posted 31.3 minutes per game.

Vernon Carey Jr., who played for Duke during the 2019-2020 season, was traded alongside veteran guard Ish Smith to the Washington Wizards in a deal that sent Montrezl Harrell to Charlotte. While the Wizards lose the former Sixth Man of the Year in Harrell, they have an interesting young prospect in Carey who could see more playing time with star guard Bradley Beal sidelined due to injury. The Wizards are in a similar situation to the Trail Blazers, as they both have injured stars and have recently traded assets away. However, this would be a great opportunity for Carey to showcase his talents in the pros. At Duke, he was named ACC Freshman of the Year after averaging 17.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. This could be the optimal situation for Carey to take the next step in his career.

Jones, Curry have big games

The Memphis Grizzlies may just have championship DNA on their team. Third-year guard Ja Morant—recently named an All-Star starter—has been on an irrefutable tear this season, averaging a career-high in scoring and leading the Grizzlies to the current No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. However, when he has not been healthy, the Grizzlies have been able to rely on other players to step up their game. Former Duke guard and national champion Tyus Jones has of course been one of them, as he had another career game Tuesday against the New Orleans Pelicans. With Morant out with left ankle soreness, Jones scored a career-high 27 points to go along with 9 assists to beat the Pelicans 121-109, pushing the Grizzlies' winning streak to six games.

In his debut for the Brooklyn Nets, Seth Curry had a big game and made his presence known on his new squad. Before Monday’s game against the Sacramento Kings in Brooklyn, the Nets had lost 11 straight games, dropped from the top of the playoff standings and reshaped their entire roster. Curry's acquisition from Philadelphia helped to turn that around, as the veteran guard dropped a team-high 23 points to beat Sacramento 109-85. Curry provides valuable shooting for the Nets at this time with Joe Harris, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant all out for the time being. It will be interesting to see if the Nets' full roster can get a chance to play together with Curry on the court in the near future.

Kennard to compete in 3-point contest

Luke Kennard is set to compete at All-Star Weekend in Saturday night's 3-point contest. The former Duke standout is shooting 44.8% from long range, averaging 11.8 points per game for the Los Angeles Clippers and is ranked second in 3-point percentage across the league behind Miami's PJ Tucker.

In his last game leading up to the All-Star break, Kennard gave a potential preview of what a possible run could look like in Saturday night's event, shooting 8-of-9 from beyond the arc to help the Clippers past the Rockets. For context, Kyrie Irving became the first and only former Blue Devil to win the NBA's 3-point contest back in 2013, and Kennard has a chance to join him Saturday.

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