Duke basketball: 5 Blue Devil greats who didn’t live up to the NBA hype

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Duke basketball NBA busts
Christian Laettner of the Minnesota Timberwolves /

Former Duke basketball stars who didn’t live up to the NBA hype.

Being successful at Duke is usually a fast track to the NBA, with 86 former Blue Devils’ players going pro. There have been some incredible performers, such as Grant Hill and Elton Brand, but Duke has had its fair share of underachievers at the pro level.

Let’s take a look at five of the biggest disappointments from the Duke basketball program in terms of pro performance, starting with one of the team’s greatest players, forward Christian Laettner.

5. Duke basketball NBA busts: Christian Laettner

The man America loved to hate, Laettner is undoubtedly one of the greatest college basketball players who ever lived. Laettner played a starring role on Duke’s first two national championship teams and hit some of the most clutch shots we’ve ever seen, including his game-winner against Kentucky in the 1992 Elite Eight.

There wasn’t a more hyped Duke player coming out of college than Laettner, who was the only amateur representative on the Dream Team. The Minnesota Timberwolves took Laettner with the third overall pick in the NBA Draft, but the situation proved to be a less than ideal fit for him.

Laettner did carve out a lengthy pro career as a solid starter or good role player, but he never lived up to the hype that he left college with. Many experts thought Laettner would be a dominant force in the NBA, but he averaged just under 13 points per game and made one All-Star team, a far cry from his massive potential at Duke.