For the fourth time since 1999, a Duke player was the first choice in the NBA draft. It also made it the ninth year in a row that the ACC has selected one of its players as part of its first four picks. The conference went pretty well overall, but the 2022 NBA draft was especially amazing for Duke, like it’s a surprise. Meanwhile, Notre Dame saw one of its favorites in the first round, something that hasn’t happened in seven years.
While it would be nice to ensure that all of these players make it big in the NBA, we all know that’s unlikely. Some of them may become future superstars, while others will not even spend a single minute in the league. Time will allow all these careers to end, and now is not the time to speculate about who will be good or bad. This is the time for them to celebrate the next chapter of their lives.
Here are the ACC players who were selected by NBA teams in 2022:
No. 1 – Orlando Magic – Paolo Bankero – Duke
March 10, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Paolo Banchero (5) takes the ball to the court against the Syracuse Orange in the first half at the Barclays Center. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Banchero was supposed to be in the first three picks in the draft, although not everyone had an ACC Rookie of the Year and a second-team All-American who were first on the board. However, his 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game were no fluke and he earned a spot on the All-ACC first team. He will join the Magic’s young core, which already consists of Cole Anthony, Franz Wagner, Jalen Suggs and fellow former Blue Devil Wendell Carter Jr. Things can only get better for a team that ended the 2021-22 season at the bottom of the Eastern Championship. Conference.
No. 15 – Charlotte Hornets – Mark Williams – Duke
March 20, 2022; Greenville, South Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Mark Williams (15) scores against the Michigan State Spartans in the first half of the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
If there’s one thing to know about Williams, it’s defense, defense and defense. He is the current ACC Defensive Player of the Year, which happened in the same season when he was named to the Conference All-Defensive Team and became the All-Conference Third Team. In two seasons with the Blue Devils, he averaged 9.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, leading the latter category in the 2021–22 season (2.8). He may have been chosen as a future replacement for former Blue Devils teammate Mason Plumlee, who will become an unrestricted free agent after the upcoming season.
No. 16 – Atlanta Hawks – AJ Griffin – Duke
March 18, 2022; Greenville, South Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward A.J. Griffin, 21, brings the ball to court during the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Griffin was another uncompromising player for the Blue Devils. With 10.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, he made the conference freshman team. He will join the Hawks team, which already has a lot of young talent, most notably De’Andre Hunter. Perhaps Griffin was drafted as depth in case they lose Hunter, who should become a restricted free agent.
No. 19 – Memphis Grizzlies (from Minnesota Timberwolves) – Jake LaRavia – Wake Forest
LOUISVILLE, KY – DEC 29: Jake LaRavia #0 of Wake Forest Deacons vs. Louisville Cardinals at KFC YUM! Center December 29, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LaRavia thrived in his only season with the Demon Deacons after two years at Indiana State. He improved across the board, posting 14.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. The ACC’s .559 field goal percentage rating (.559) saw him named second team in the conference. He’ll give the Grizzlies depth on defense, and an overnight draft trade for De Anthony Melton should free him up a few minutes.
No. 25 – San Antonio Spurs – Blake Wesley – Notre Dame
January 17, 2022; Washington DC, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish defender Blake Wesley (0) scores against Howard Bison during the first half at the Burr Gymnasium. Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Wesley, a South Bend native, made the most of his one season with the Irish team. With 14.4 points and 2.4 assists per game, he easily made the ACC All-Freshman Team and finished second in the conference. With the Spurs, he will join a group of young defensemen looking to make the historic franchise a winner again. Devin Vassell is a key element in an already established group, and perhaps Wesley will help catch up when the Spurs traded Derrick White.
No. 26 – Wendell Moore Jr. (Dallas Mavericks), Minnesota Timberwolves – Duke
February 10, 2022; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Wendell Moore Jr. (0) is looking to score in the first half against the Clemson Tigers at Littlejohn Coliseum. Dawson Powers-USA TODAY Sports
Moore’s third season with the Blue Devils was his best. He had career highs everywhere, including 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. Not only did he make the All-ACC Second Team and Defensive Team, he also won the Julius Erving Award for the best small forward in college basketball. It’s a position that the Timberwolves lack, so hopefully he gets enough minutes as a rookie.
No. 42 – New York Knicks – Trevor Keels – Duke
March 20, 2022; Greenville, South Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils defenseman Trevor Keels (1) hits the basket against Michigan State Spartans in the first half of the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Another shot for the Blue Devils failed in the second round of the draft. Keels averaged 11.5 points, 2.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game. This placed him on the ACC All-Freshman Team along with teammates Bunchero and Griffin. He will provide defensive depth for the Knicks and possibly get some NBA tips from fellow former Blue Devil R.J. Barrett, who will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.