5 Great College Basketball Teams That Could've Been
5. 2014-15 Duke Blue Devils
In 2014-15, Austin Rivers, who left for the 2012 NBA draft after one year at Duke, would've been a senior under Krzyzewski. With freshman-year averages of 15.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and one steal in 33.2 minutes per game, he would've made for a solid starting point guard for this hypothetical squad. In his one year, Rivers tallied 3.6 win shares and earned a player efficiency rating (PER) of 16.9.
In his third NBA season in 2014, Rivers struggled to find his game with the New Orleans Pelicans, and he was included in a midseason trade, going to the Los Angeles Clippers. There, he scored only 7.0 points per contest, and his -3.6 nERD tells us that he was a below-average player. Since then, Rivers has improved upon that nERD and is shaping up to be a good bench player for the Clippers.
What some people may not know is that Rodney Hood played one season at Mississippi State before transferring to Duke for his sophomore season. In that one year, Hood scored 16.1 points with two three-pointers per game. His all-around game produced 4.5 win shares and a PER of 20.1.
The 2014-15 season marked what would've been Hood's junior year, but it turned out to be a fresh start in the NBA. Drafted 23rd overall by the Utah Jazz, Hood yielded 8.7 points in 21.3 minutes per game. For a bench player, he wasn't terribly inefficient, earning a nERD of 0.2, which proved that he was slightly better than an average player. Not bad for a 22-year-old, but nowadays Hood is the starting shooting guard for Utah (when healthy), and he averages 14 points and more than two three-pointers per night.
At a very athletic 6'6", Justise Winslow makes for a great small forward. In his short time at Duke, he was just that, scoring 12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.2 threes in 29.1 minutes as a freshman. He was an elite defender, holding his opponents to 92.8 points per 100 possessions, while having an overall impact of 5.5 win shares in Duke's 2015 national championship.
Winslow has yet to find a concrete role in the league. He's had a hard time staying healthy, too, and as a result, he has been very inefficient when on the court, with nERD scores of -3.9 and -3.4, respectively, in his first one-plus years. We'll have to wait and see what he develops into, but what he know is that Winslow would bring great defensive versatility to a team chock-full of scorers around him.
Among those scorers is Jabari Parker, who averaged 19.1 points in his only season as a Blue Devil. In 35 games and 30.7 minutes per night, Parker shot 47.3% from the field with 1.1 three-point makes a game. He also added 8.7 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals for an overall contribution of .205 win shares per 40 minutes.
Parker played a very short first year in the NBA, with just 25 games played due to injury. His -0.4 nERD indicates that he was a below-average player in what would've been his sophomore season at Duke. But, since then, Parker has progressed into a really good NBA forward. Now 21, Parker is averaging 20.4 points a night while earning a nERD of 2.0.
Along with Winslow, Jahlil Okafor laid claim to a title in his one year in Durham. He won ACC Player of the Year honors with 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. His .235 win shares per 40 minutes led the team, as well.
Since entering the league, Okafor has had a hard time remaining healthy and fitting into an overcrowded frontcourt with the Philadelphia 76ers. He's been brought up in trade rumors recently, having posted nERD scores of -4.7 and -0.8, respectively, in his one-plus NBA seasons to date. He isn't the best defender, but the offensive firepower of this team would've been enough to outscore just about any opposing NCAA squad.