Duke in the NBA: Tatum, Banchero lead teams to top of East, Lively continues strong start

Former Duke guard Jayson Tatum has led the Boston Celtics to a 15-4 record atop the Eastern Conference.
Former Duke guard Jayson Tatum has led the Boston Celtics to a 15-4 record atop the Eastern Conference.

While Duke men’s basketball has had some recent struggles in its early-season slate, some former Blue Devils are finding success in the NBA. The Blue Zone takes a look at some Duke alum succeeding on the game’s biggest stage:

Dereck Lively II continues strong rookie campaign

Dereck Lively II has opened eyes this season with consistently strong performances for the Dallas Mavericks. Since coming off the bench in the first game of the season, he’s started every game he’s appeared in for head coach Jason Kidd’s team. His best game of the season came Saturday against the Thunder, as he went a perfect 9-for-9 from the field, alongside seven blocks and 16 rebounds. In the six-point loss, the Mavericks were +12 when Lively was on the floor. On the season, he has shot 72.2% from the field, which would slot in at second in the league, if he was qualified. Additionally, his 1.5 blocks per game is good for 15th in the league. The most impressive part? He’s only 19.

Jayson Tatum leads top-of-conference Celtics

Another day, another good game for Jayson Tatum. Boston matched up against its bitter rival Philadelphia Friday, and Tatum certainly played a role in the game. He scored 21 points on a 6-of-9 line from the field, tallying seven more from the stripe. He paired that with seven boards and four assists. However, these numbers were only through the first three quarters, as he was assessed for his second technical foul at the end of the third. He shared a few words with the officials, but described himself as not being mad, and wasn’t particularly sure why he was ejected. He said of their conversation “There was no magic words, I didn’t cuss.” Regardless, the Celtics went on to seal the 125-119 victory without the St. Louis native.

Brandon Ingram scores in bunches

Brandon Ingram has been his typical consistent self for New Orleans. His season shooting percentage mark is up to 49.8%, an excellent number for a wing. In 18 games this season, he’s averaged 23.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists. The 6-foot-8 forward has scored double digits in every game this year, and has been a part of the effort to keep the Pelicans afloat, as they currently sit at 11-10, good for 8th place in the western conference. Recently, he tallied his most efficient performance of the season Saturday, going 10-for-15 against Chicago and scoring 23 points. 

Paolo Banchero builds on rookie success

Banchero’s sophomore year has gotten off to a strong beginning, as he’s been in the starting five in all 20 games. He’s averaged 19.5 points per game in his appearances, and is coming off a great weekend. He tallied two double-doubles, the first coming against Washington, as he scored 28 points and snatched 13 rebounds. The following night against the Nets, he tallied 19 points and secured 10 boards. Orlando’s been off to a hot start this season, racing out of the gates to a 14-6 record, good for second in the eastern conference. The 6-foot-10 power forward has had a big hand in the Magic’s resurgence, and will continue to be important as head coach Jamahl Mosely’s team looks to reach the playoffs this season.

Mark Williams: Double-Double Machine

The Hornets’ center keeps filling the stat sheet, as he logged another double-double against the Nets Thursday — his eighth of the season. He pulled down 12 rebounds and scored 12 points in a tight win over the Nets in 32 minutes of play. For a 6-12 Charlotte team, Williams has been a bright spot, averaging a double-double of 13.2 points and 10.1 rebounds. He’s been a strong part of the defensive effort as well, as the 7-footer has averaged a block every game. The Hornets aren’t looking likely to make a postseason run this year, but Williams will continue to make his mark on the season.


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