How’d They Do It? Duke 1st to Boast 4 Top 40 Players


In 2004, Duke became the first team with three top 40 Value Add players, and today Duke becomes the first team to top that mark with four Top 40 players after the run by Justise Winslow.

In the NCAA preview, we calculated that Winslow was one of the top few NBA prospects with a 96% chance of making the league, but his 5.78 Value Add rating at the time left him just out of the Top 100 of the 4,100 players rated.

Winslow’s Value Add for the six games of the tournament stood at 14.90—meaning Duke was almost 15 points a game better with Winslow then they would have been with a mediocre replacement player in his place. If he had played at that level for the whole season he would have been the most valuable player in the history of the database, which goes back to 2003.

He passed more than 60 players during the tournament to finish in 39th with a 7.18 Value Add for the year. His teammates Tyus Jones (15th, 8.11), Quinn Cook (17th, 8.00), and Jahlil Okafor (21st, 7.78) finished the quartet.

Okafor continued to be overrated by everyone, including even excellent Washington Post writer Neil Greenberg before the game who said Okafor had the edge on Kaminsky. Breitbart Sports correctly predicted the absolute dominance Kaminsky would have over Okafor. But Duke proved four great players can beat one even better player just as they did to No. 1 player Delon Wright from Utah.

Okafor’s 95 turnovers and 51 percent free throw shooting and mediocre defense keep him out of the truly elite players in his real value, but as one of four he was dominant.

The only other teams to every have even three Top 40 Value Add players are:

The 2013 Champs Louisville behind Russ Smith, Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng.

The only year with two such teams was 2010. It was very unfair that Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn, Ekpe Udoh, and Tweety Carter had to face eventual champ Duke’s Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, and Nolan Smith in the Elite 8.

Texas’ DJ Augustin, AJ Abrams, and Damion James looked like they might make a run in 2008 when they beat the NBA-bound Lopez brothers and Stanford by 20 in the Sweet 16, but they then fell to John Calipari and Derrick Rose of Memphis.

LSU and Darrel Mitchell, Glen Davis, and Tyrus Thomas made a stunning 2006 Final Four run as a 4-seed before finally losing to UCLA.

Illinois with Luther Head, Dee Brown, and James Augustine made it all the way to the title game in 2005 before losing to an NBA-loaded UNC team.

Duke and Shelden Williams, Chris Duhon, and Luol Deng led UConn 75-67 in the closing few minutes of the semifinals before falling 79-78 in 2004.