DURHAM, N.C. -- The NBA regular season has come to a close, but Duke still has eight former players about to embark on their quests for the NBA Championship. Duke's eight former players in the postseason trails only Florida (10) and North Carolina (9) for the most former players in the 2014 playoffs. Headlining Duke's contingent are two-time NBA Champion Shane Battier of the Miami Heat, who will look to help the Heat to a three-peat of the league title.
Shane Battier Forward - Miami Heat Drafted: 1st Round (6th pick) by the Memphis Grizzlies (2001) 2013-14 Stats: 73 games, 4.1 ppg., 1.9 rpg., 0.5 bpg., 0.7 spg., .348 3-pt pct. Battier reached a major milestone this week, playing his 30,000th career minute in the final regular season game of his career. The two-time NBA Champion, who announced that 2013-14 will be his final year in the league, has helped the Heat to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference and the Southeast Division title. He showed he still has some life in his legs this past Wednesday, playing 40 minutes in Miami’s 100-87 loss to Philadelphia and scoring nine points with three made three-pointers. Battier will be playing in his 10th NBA postseason and is nearing his 100th NBA playoff game.
Elton Brand Forward - Atlanta Hawks Drafted: 1st Round (1st pick) by the Chicago Bulls (1999) 2013-14 Stats: 73 games, 5.7 ppg., 4.9 rpg., 1.2 bpg., 0.5 spg., .539 FG pct. In the twilight of his 16-year NBA career, Brand has served as a role player with the Hawks but in doing so has helped Atlanta clinch a playoff berth for the seventh consecutive season. Brand, who will be making his fourth NBA playoff appearance, is shooting a career-best .539 from the floor and has played at least 20 minutes in eight of Atlanta’s past nine games. Brand played some of his best basketball of the season in April, averaging 6.9 points and 5.9 rebounds to help the Hawks win six of their final nine games during a late playoff push.
Carlos Boozer Forward - Chicago Bulls Drafted: 2nd Round (35th pick) by the Cleveland Cavaliers (2002) 2013-14 Stats: 76 games, 14.5 ppg., 8.3 rpg., 1.6 apg., 0.3 bpg., 0.7 spg. Another year, another playoff berth for Boozer and the Bulls. The 12-year pro led the Bulls to the franchise’s sixth straight NBA playoffs, the past four of which have been with Boozer. Boozer continues to anchor Chicago in the post, averaging 14.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game this season. If history is any indicator, Boozer should get even better when playoff time begins when he brings his career postseason averages of 17.6 points and 11.3 rebounds per game into a first-round matchup against Washington.
Mike Dunleavy Forward - Chicago Bulls Drafted: 1st Round (3rd pick) by the Golden State Warriors (2002) 2013-14 Stats: 82 games, 11.3 ppg., 4.2 rpg., 2.3 apg., 0.6 bpg., 0.8 spt., .380 3-pt pct. Dunleavy started just six games combined over the 2011-12 and 2012-13, so when he signed with the Bulls, few could predict that he would become a fixture of the Bulls starting five. Fast forward to the start of the 2014 NBA Postseason and Dunleavy has started 61 of Chicago’s 82 games while averaging over 30 minutes per game for the first time since 2007-08 with the Pacers. Despite playing 12 productive seasons in the league for four different franchises, Dunleavy will be making only his third playoff appearance, though three of those have come in the past four seasons. He will team with former Duke teammate Carlos Boozer – who was also drafted in 2002 – in the Bulls’ first-round game series against Washington.
Gerald Henderson Guard - Charlotte Bobcats Drafted: 1st Round (12th pick) by the Charlotte Bobcats (2009) 2013-14 Stats: 77 games, 14.0 ppg., 4.0 rpg., 2.6 apg., 0.4 bpg., 0.7 spg. It took five seasons with the Bobcats, but Henderson will make his first official NBA Postseason appearance this Sunday against the reigning NBA Champion Miami Heat. Henderson was on the roster during Charlotte’s 2009-10 playoff run but did not see the court. Fast forward four years later and Henderson is now among Charlotte’s best players, ranking third on the team in scoring and minutes per game. He enters the playoffs having scored in double figures in 14 of his past 17 games.
Josh McRoberts Forward - Charlotte Bobcats Drafted: 2nd Round (37th pick) by the Portland Trail Blazers (2007) 2013-14 Stats: 78 games, 8.5 ppg., 4.8 rpg., 4.3 apg., 0.6 bpg., 0.7 spg. The midseason trade to Charlotte in 2012-13 was a revelation for McRoberts, who went on to average a career-best 9.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in his 26 appearances with the Bobcats. He carried that momentum into this season and has started 78 games at power forward, keeping up a scoring average of 8.5 points per game which is the second highest of his career. His performance, along with that of former Duke teammate Gerald Henderson, has helped propel the Bobcats to their second NBA playoff berth in franchise history. It will be the third postseason appearance of McRoberts’ career, following up on previous playoff stints with the Pacers in 2010-11 and Lakers in 2011-12.
Mason Plumlee Center - Brooklyn Nets Drafted: 1st Round (22nd pick) by the Brooklyn Nets (2013) 2013-14 Stats: 70 games, 7.4 ppg., 4.4 rpg., 0.9 apg., 0.8 bpg. 0.7 spg. While it took Mike Dunleavy nine seasons in the NBA to reach the playoffs, former Duke big man Mason Plumlee gets to punch his ticket to the postseason after just one year in the league. The first-year forward played in 70 games in his first professional season, averaging 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. He registered five double-doubles and enters the playoffs with double-digit scoring in four of his past five games. Plumlee shook off a midseason slump in which he averaged just 8.6 minutes per game in January to become one of Brooklyn’s top contributors in March and April. He has averaged 11.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in April for his highest scoring output of the season.
J.J. Redick Guard - Los Angeles Clippers Drafted: 1st Round (11th pick) by the Orlando Magic (2006) 2013-14 Stats: 35 games, 15.2 ppg., 2.1 rpg., 2.2 apg., 0.8 spg., .395 3-pt pct. J.J. Redick has spent the past three seasons playing for four different NBA teams, but he has increased his scoring average with every one of those squads. Now settled in with the Los Angeles Clippers, Redick is averaging a career-best 15.2 points per game despite missing significant time with a back injury. He returned the floor only recently, taking the floor on April 3 after a 24-game hiatus. Since returning, Redick has scored in double figures in four of Los Angeles’ past six games. It’s a good time to get Redick back on the floor, however, as the seven-year pro has made the playoffs every year of his NBA career.