Talented Duke Teams Countdown Reaches a National Champion
Coming in at 40 on our countdown is the first Final Four team on our list.
Based on its impact on the NBA, the 1987-88 Blue Devils were the least packed with talent of Duke’s 16 Final Four teams.
Duke went 28-7 that year and beat Temple to advance to its second Final Four in three years. That season also started a streak of five straight Final Four appearances for the Blue Devils.
Duke had just two future NBA payers on the team, however.
Danny Ferry led the team in scoring as a junior at 19.1 ppg. He went on to play in the NBA from 1991 to 2003, appearing in 917 games and scoring 6,439 points.
Sophomore Alaa Abdelnaby also played on the team, averaging just 4.9 points in 9.4 minutes. He would go on to become a first-round draft pick and play five years for five teams, appearing in 256 games and scoring 1,465 points.
The team finished one spot behind the 1986-87 Blue Devils, who missed the Final Four the year before—the only time from 1986 to 1992 that Duke didn’t make it to the season’s last weekend. In addition to Ferry and Abdelnaby, that team had Martin Nessley, who scored 48 NBA points in 44 games.
In 38 place, No. 15 among Final Four teams, is the 2015 National Champions. Obviously, with only five NBA seasons under its belt, this team has the chance to continue moving up the rankings as the various players’ careers continue to develop.
The team had plenty of NBA depth. It’s one of three Duke teams to send eight players to the NBA: Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow, Grayson Allen, Quinn Cook, Amile Jefferson, Marshall Plumlee and Semi Ojeleye, who transferred mid-season but played for Duke for a portion of the year. All except Plumlee were still active in 2020.
Had the coronavirus not cut the 2020 regular season short, the 2015 team would likely have finished three spots higher. It was within 101 points of three early Coach K teams.
Here’s a look at the Duke teams just beneath the 10,000 NBA point plateau.