Kentucky leads the nation with 27 players on NBA rosters, Duke has 21 | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Tuesday / May 21.
  • Kentucky leads the nation with 27 players on NBA rosters, Duke has 21

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    No surprise, Kentucky and Duke lead again.

    As the 2021-22 NBA season begins Tuesday, 27 players on NBA opening-day rosters (including two-way and inactive lists) played and finished their college basketball careers at Kentucky.

    Duke is next with 21.

    Of the 495 players in the NBA to start the 2020-21 season, 5.5% played and finished their college basketball careers at Kentucky, 4.2% played at Duke.

    The list was compiled from the NBA’s official opening-day roster list.

    Of the NBA’s 30 teams, 17 have former Wildcats and 16 have former Blue Devils.

    The Knicks – nicknamed the Kentucky Knicks – remain the leader in NBA Wildcats with four: Kevin Knox II (2018), Nerlens Noel (2013), Immanuel Quickley (2019-20) and Julius Randle (2014). A fifth player, Derrick Rose, also played for John Calipari but at Memphis (2008), and assistant coach Kenny Payne was a longtime UK assistant. All played prominent roles in the Knicks’ run to the NBA Playoffs last season.

    The Lakers are just behind the Knicks with three former Kentucky players in Anthony Davis (2012), Malik Monk (2017) and Rajon Rondo (2005-06). Davis and Rondo won NBA titles with the Lakers in 2020. Adding to the UK ties, is head coach Frank Vogel who is a Kentucky graduate and former Wildcat student manager and video coordinator.

    Five other franchises – the Charlotte Hornets (Nick Richards [2018-20], PJ Washington [2018-19]), the Detroit Pistons (Hamidou Diallo [2017-18], Trey Lyles [2015]), the Los Angeles Clippers (Eric Bledsoe [2010], Brandon Boston Jr. [2021], the Miami Heat (Bam Adebayo [2017], Tyler Herro [2019]) and the Minnesota Timberwolves (Karl-Anthony Towns [2015], Jarred Vanderbilt [2018]) – open the season with at least two Wildcats apiece.

    Of the 27 Wildcats on an opening-day NBA roster, John Calipari has coached 26 of them. With Rose, a former Calipari player at Memphis, Calipari has also coached 27 players on 2021-22 opening-day rosters.

    Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski has coached all 21 Duke players in the NBA.

    Atlanta (Cam Reddish, Jalen Johnson) New Orleans (Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram) and the Clippers (Luke Kennard, Justice Winslow) each have two former Blue Devils.

    Wildcats in the NBA

    Bam Adebayo – Miami Heat
    Eric Bledsoe – Los Angeles Clippers
    Devin Booker – Phoenix Suns

    Brandon Boston Jr. – Los Angeles Clippers
    Willie Cauley-Stein – Dallas Mavericks
    Anthony Davis – Los Angeles Lakers

    Hamidou Diallo – Detroit Pistons

    De’Aaron Fox – Sacramento Kings

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Oklahoma City Thunder
    Tyler Herro – Miami Heat

    Isaiah Jackson – Indiana Pacers

    Keldon Johnson – San Antonio Spurs

    Enes Kanter – Boston Celtics

    Kevin Knox II – New York Knicks

    Trey Lyles – Detroit Pistons

    Tyrese Maxey – Philadelphia 76ers
    Malik Monk – Los Angeles Lakers

    Jamal Murray – Denver Nuggets

    Nerlens Noel – New York Knicks

    Immanuel Quickley – New York Knicks
    Julius Randle – New York Knicks

    Nick Richards – Charlotte Hornets
    Rajon Rondo – Los Angeles Lakers
    Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves

    Jarred Vanderbilt – Minnesota Timberwolves
    John Wall – Houston Rockets
    PJ Washington – Charlotte Hornets

    Blue Devils in the NBA
    Cam Reddish — Atlanta
    Jalen Johnson — Atlanta
    Jayson Tatum — Boston
    Kyrie Irving — Brooklyn*
    Vernon Carey Jr. — Charlotte
    Mason Plumlee — Charlotte
    Austin Rivers — Denver
    Frank Jackson — Detroit
    Luke Kennard — LA Clippers
    Justise Winslow — LA Clippers
    Tyus Jones — Memphis
    Grayson Allen — Milwaukee
    Rodney Hood — Milwaukee
    Brandon Ingram — New Orleans
    Zion Williamson — New Orleans*
    RJ Barrett — New York
    Wendell Carter Jr. — Orlando
    Seth Curry — Philadelphia
    Marvin Bagley III — Sacramento
    Tre Jones — San Antonio
    Gary Trent Jr. – Toronto
    * – inactive

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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