Notable Duke alumni to play for New York Knicks

New York Knicks Lance Thomas (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
New York Knicks Lance Thomas (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks selected Duke’s RJ Barrett in the 2019 NBA Draft. Which other notable Blue Devils have suited up for the Knicks?

When  RJ Barrett third overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, he became the latest Duke player to join the New York Knicks. His star teammate in college, Zion Williamson, was hyped to be that next former Blue Devil to join the team, but the Knicks still received a touted talent.

The line of Duke players to suit up for the Knicks is not long. In recent years, though, they have featured some who played under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, including the 2018-19 team. Others were part of the previous eras of Duke basketball:

  • 1963: Art Heyman The Knicks made Heyman the first overall pick of the 1963 NBA draft, long before the lottery process was in place. He never lived up to top selection expectations, however, in just two seasons with the organization.
  • 1982-83: Vince Taylor Taylor was New York’s second-round pick in 1982, but he only played 31 NBA games. Before that, he was a four-year standout at Duke.
  • 2008-10: Chris Duhon 25 years later, the Knicks had another Duke player, Chris Duhon, join their roster. He started 137 of 145 games played and averaged 9.4 points and 6.5 assists. The Chicago Bulls chose him in the second round of the 2004 NBA Draft.
  • 2010-11: Shelden Williams – A journeyman forward, Williams spent 17 games with the Knicks after the 2011 Carmelo Anthony trade.
  • 2015-19: Lance Thomas – Thomas wrapped up his last season with the Knicks in 2019, after spending parts of five years with the organization he joined in 2015 via trade. He started 92 games and averaged 6.0 points and 2.6 rebounds.
  • 2016-17: Marshall Plumlee – Plumlee played 21 games with the Knicks, including one start.
  • 2019-present: RJ Barrett – The highest-profile player of the bunch, Barrett will have expectations to succeed in the NBA and be one of the Knicks’ top players moving forward.

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The bar is not high for Barrett to reach for Duke players who appeared with the Knicks, so he could shatter it as soon as the 2019-20 season and ascend from there.