The ACC And The NBA Draft

The ACC had three players drafted in yesterday’s NBA draft, Loul Deng of Duke at #7, Chris Duhon of Duke at #38 and Tim Pickett of Florida State at #44. The three draft picks were the fewest for the ACC since 2000, when only two players, Jason Collier of Georgia Tech and Chris Carrawell of Duke were selected. The last time the ACC had as few as three first and second round picks was 1988. The interesting thing about so few draftees is that the ACC was very strong this past year. Four teams (Duke, Wake, Georgia Tech and UNC) were routinely ranked in the top 15, six finished in the final rankings (add NC State and Maryland) and two teams (Duke and GT) made the Final Four. That so little top-flight talent is leaving the conference just underscores how good the ACC will be next year. Almost all the talent that gave the ACC the highest conference RPI ever (at least, in the history of the RPI) returns. It should be an amazing year.
That only three players were drafted is a bit misleading. Two players who had signed to play at ACC schools next year, Shaun Livingston of Duke (nearly) and JR Smith of UNC (almost). Those players don’t really count of course, since they never played in the ACC, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Although they were both drafted in the first round, it’s not a given that either player would have started next year in college. Livingston would have had to beat out junior Sean Dockery for the point guard spot. He probably wouldn’t have begun the season as the starter, but would likely have earned it (if projections are correct) later in the year. JR Smith almost certainly wouldn’t have started for Carolina with Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants, Jawad Williams and Sean May returning along with other freshman Marvin Williams. Marvin Williams likely would have been (and will be) the fifth starter, as Carolina needs frontcourt help, not more guards.
It’s quite likely that next year will see a surplus of ACC players drafted. Seniors Julius Hodge, BJ Elder, Luke Schenscher and Jawad Williams, in that order, will all be likely candidates. Underclassmen Marvin Williams, Felton, May, McCants, JJ Redick, Shavlik Randolph, Sheldon Williams, John Gilchrist, Jarrett Jack, Chris Paul and Justin Gray could all be candidates for early entry.
An interesting coincidence about last night’s draft was that the Chicago Bulls ended up with both Luol Deng and Chris Duhon. Chris Chase had a great line about this, “Well, at least the Bulls will be able to beat Clemson twice this year.”
Deng was the twelfth Duke player drafted in the lottery, the most of any school. Since the NBA went to just two rounds in 1989, Duke has had 24 players selected, tying Arizona for the most ever. Of course, Duke players have a reputation of being busts in the NBA. That rep has been deflated a bit in recent years with the successes of Grant Hill (pre-wheelchair), Elton Brand, Corey Maggette and Carlos Boozer. The knock has now evolved to say that Dukies don’t win NBA titles.
Well, now that the NBA Finals and draft are both over, we enter the dark days of the sports year. All we have on a day-to-day basis are regular season baseball games. Yawn. I’ll be struggling for things to write about until late summer, when the Olympics and football get going. Thank God it’s nice outside.

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