Duke in the NBA: Blue Devils lead Western Conference teams toward the playoffs, Carter a force for the Magic


As the final week of the NBA regular season takes place, several former Blue Devils are aiding their teams heading into the postseason. The Blue Zone is here to highlight a few of Duke’s basketball alums:

Brandon Ingram leads playoff push for Pelicans

The NBA’s Western Conference has been fiercely competitive this season; as of April 5, five teams can still avoid the play-in tournament altogether by clinching the No. 5- or No. 6-seed in the West. The New Orleans Pelicans, led by Brandon Ingram, are one of those teams.

Ingram’s 2022-23 season has arguably been his best, at least when he has actually appeared on the court. The former ACC Rookie of the Year is averaging a career-high 24.5 points per game on 48.2% shooting while adding 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. Ingram’s April has yielded mixed results. On April 1, Ingram scored 36 points and dished out eight assists for a critical win against the Clippers, but Tuesday, the former Blue Devil had seven turnovers in a blowout loss to the Kings. The Pelicans still have three games to improve their playoff positioning, but New Orleans fans are surely hoping for a postseason return of Zion Williamson, who has been out since the start of the year with a foot injury. Without Williamson, Ingram has won just 14 of 30 games.

Kyrie Irving, Mavericks collapse despite great numbers

When Kyrie Irving was traded to the Mavericks Feb. 6, many expected the team to be in title contention. Instead, Dallas has lost 16 of its last 25 games and is in danger of missing the play-in tournament altogether. The former Blue Devil has averaged 27.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists on 49.4% shooting since being acquired by the Mavericks, but it appears that the ball-dominant duo of Irving and superstar guard Luka Doncic has not made up for a questionable defense. The Mavericks still have a 48.4% chance of reaching the play-in tournament, but it looks like Irving’s stay in Dallas might be a brief one.

Luke Kennard continues sharpshooting streak

Last season, Luke Kennard led the NBA in 3-point percentage with an impressive 44.9% mark. This season, the former Blue Devil has amped up his efficiency for the Grizzlies, making a mind-numbing, league-leading 48.9% of his treys. In Memphis’s recent win against the Trail Blazers, Kennard went 6-of-10 from outside the arc, and hit five threes in the first quarter alone. As the Grizzlies look to secure the No. 2-seed in the Western Conference, Kennard has proven himself a valuable asset and should have an important role for the title hopefuls.

Wendell Carter Jr. plays well as a third option

While Paolo Banchero has taken the limelight in Orlando, Fla., for his Rookie of the Year campaign, don’t let that distract you from former Duke standout Wendell Carter Jr. The former Blue Devil is quietly having his most productive and efficient season as a pro, averaging 15.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Carter has mostly played as the third scoring option behind Banchero and Franz Wagner, but he has put together some solid performances this season. On March 11 against Miami, Carter scored 27 points and nabbed 11 boards in the 126-114 victory. A week later against the Clippers, Carter garnered 27 points again while filling out the stat sheet with 12 boards, a pair of assists, three steals and two blocks. The Magic will hope to continue to improve in years to come beside a young Banchero and Carter, and their fans are surely expecting this season by Carter to be a harbinger for future seasons.


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