Mike Krzyzewski’s time as head coach of the storied Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball program is coming to an end this year. After the 2021-22 NCAA basketball season, Coach K and the Blue Devils will be parting ways, which is something that’s hard to fathom, considering what seems to be an eternity that Krzyzewski has spent as the team’s boss. But Krzyzewski’s legacy goes beyond what he’s done in Durham. Because Duke has always managed to recruit some of the best talents in the nation, it only stands to reason that many of those players have made quite an impact in the NBA once they turned professionals.

With that said, let’s take a look at the top NBA players ever produced by Duke under Coach K. No list is going to be perfect in everyone’s eyes when trying to distill hordes of players from a respected program like Duke, but that’s why lists are fun, right?

The best NBA players to ever play for Coach K at Duke

7. Zion Williamson

This may or may not be an eyebrow-raising pick. For one, Williamson has not played more than three seasons yet in the NBA, as of this writing. And when you really think about it, he’s really just played two seasons in the pros thus far, as he has yet to suit up in the 2021-22 NBA season. That being said, everyone is in agreement that Williamson is a truly special talent. He has shown his immense potential and incredibly high ceiling in the NBA right in his very first season in the league with the New Orleans Pelicans. His athleticism is out of this world, even by NBA standards. His combination of size and mobility is something that can only be produced from a mad scientist’s lab — or in Duke.

6. Brandon Ingram

Like Zion, Ingram is still considered a youngster in the NBA. He entered the league when he was only 19 after getting selected by the Los Angeles Lakers second overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. Outside of his rookie season, Ingram has averaged at least 16 points every season and he is only getting better. He became a first-time NBA All-Star in 2020, and there should be more to come. Ingram is one of the best shot-makers in the pros. A three-level scorer, who can deal damage on opposing defenses from almost anywhere on the floor, Ingram is turning out to be the scary player people thought he’d be in the NBA after his one-year stint with Duke under Coach K.

5. Jayson Tatum

Tatum has become a franchise cornerstone for the Boston Celtics. It could be argued that the Celtics will go as far as where Tatum takes them. Whatever the case may be, Tatum has clearly established himself as among the best players in the NBA today — and he’s only 23! Tatum, who played for Duke in the 2016-17 NCAA season, fell into the laps of the Celtics as the team’s third pick overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. It did not take Tatum much time to show his potential to become a superstar in the league. In just five seasons, Tatum already has three All-Star selections and an All-NBA Third Team appearance.

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4. Elton Brand

From the young guys, we go to the ones that came before them. Brand was the consummate professional in the NBA. While he was never able to win an NBA title, there was a stretch in his pro career in which he made pulling off double-doubles look normal. In his first season in the NBA, Brand was able to average 20.1 points and 10.0 rebounds for the Chicago Bulls. That would be the first of five consecutive seasons wherein he averaged at least 18.2 points and 10.0 rebounds per contest while also shooting 49.4 percent from the field during that stretch.

3. Shane Battier

If we’re just talking about achievements as a Duke Blue Devil, Battier is arguably the best player Coach K has ever handled in Durham. But that’s not to say that Battier’s NBA career is something to scoff at. Although Battier never became a superstar in the pros, he was someone everyone wants to be on their team. He made Duke and Coach K proud with the way he presented himself on and off the floor even after his time with the Blue Devils. In the NBA, Battier was known to be a premier perimeter defender. He was named in other NBA All-Defensive Second Team twice and was part of two NBA championship teams. Battier was the quintessential “3-and-D” guy way before the term became ubiquitous in the NBA. He was a career 38.4% shooter from deep in the NBA and had a 35.5 defensive win shares.

2. Kyrie Irving

Unlike most names on this list, Irving has an NBA ring, which he won with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. It’s unfortunate that Irving’s tenure with Duke lasted just 11 games. He could have done more for Duke had he played in more games with the Blue Devils, but he still justified his early departure from college for the pros with his amazing play in the NBA. Right in his rookie season with the Cavs, Irving averaged 18.5 points and 5.7 assists, while playing 30.5 minutes per game in the 2011-2012 season on his way to capturing that season’s NBA Rookie of the Year honors.  In over 10 seasons in the NBA, Irving has averaged more than 22 points per game on 47.0 FG%.

1. Grant Hill

The GOAT Duke NBA player. Hill was a superstar already even before he played his first second in the NBA. Everyone knew he was going to shine in the league long before he was selected by the Detroit Pistons as the team’s third pick in the 1994 NBA Draft. At his prime, Hill was an unstoppable force on the floor, able to do it all on both ends of the floor. Hill was an All-Star in five of his first six seasons in the NBA and during that span, he averaged 21.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Injuries immensely slowed down Hill and robbed basketball fans of the full experience of watching him play during his prime years, but he still managed to play until 40 years old, which speaks a lot about the character of this Dukie.