The sheer mention of Duke basketball stirs emotions one way or the other. Especailly when those players are current and former Bulls.
When the Bulls recently announced they would sign swingman Mike Dunleavy Jr., a former Blue Devil, I got to thinking: Why do they Bulls continue to draft and sign players from the nation's most hated college program? Especially since few seem to pan out?
Those who favor this practice say Duke players come from a more "structured" program, are disciplined, NBA-ready and the give "maximum effort." It also helps that Duke continues to have a pipeline from Chicago to the university (as with Sean Dockery, Jon Scheyer and Jabari Parker).
Not everyone is buying their value, however.
Elton Brand, Jay Williams, Luol Deng, Chris Duhon, Carlos Boozer. There are more, but that establishes a pattern—one that is disturbing to some Bulls fans.
I can't confirm or deny the coincidence that Bulls management specifically searches out former Duke players. Like other teams who draft and sign players via free agency, the Bulls look for the best players available. If said player happens to be from Duke? Well, I guess it is what it is, as they say.
Here are the most notable Duke players who have worn a Bulls jersey:
5. Chris Duhon
Even though he was a serviceable backup point guard in his time with the Bulls, he spent more time on the society page than he did on the stat sheet.
4. Jay Williams
Things started well for Williams until he got injured on the motorcycle the team told him not to buy. Also, Williams didn't help his cause when alienated his former teammates when he discussed their alleged off-court activities earlier this year.
3. Elton Brand
Brand was the No. 1 pick in the 1999 NBA draft and averaged a double-double in his first season in Chicago. The team felt like those numbers weren't going to last long as they traded him two seasons later for Tyson Chandler.
2. Carlos Boozer
Boozer was the consolation prize in the LeBron James sweepstakes. Bulls fans thought they were getting the Boozer who played well on the Olympic team and led the Utah Jazz to the Western Conference finals. Instead they got a player who often disappears during the playoffs.
1. Luol Deng
At one point, Deng was much maligned and branded as soft. Since then, Deng has made the All-Star team twice and the All-Defensive team once. He also became the Bulls' best perimeter defender. However, his offensive game is limited, and that may be one of the reasons his name was thrown around in trade talks before this year's draft.
Evan F. Moore is a RedEye special contributor.
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