Lucas: Gerald Henderson Is Wrong (Again)
In what is likely familiar territory for the former Duke Blue Devil, Gerald Henderson is wrong. This probably does not surprise you. Henderson is many things: a talented basketball player, a friend of Tar Heel Wayne Ellington, a budding UFC superstar with an atomic elbow. Let's review (warning: Billy Packer ahead!):
"It was not an intentional foul at all." Just remember that any time you mistakenly start thinking you miss Billy Packer.
Back to Henderson. Last week, he was the subject of one of those good-natured "Carolina vs. Duke rivalry even extends to the alums" stories on FoxSports.com. It was all in good fun and gave Henderson a chance to match wits with Brendan Haywood, which undoubtedly for Haywood was preferable to matching elbows. (Side note: Haywood is the subject of one of the funniest Phil Ford stories I've ever heard. The story has the punch line, "Brendan is so cheap he could rub the buffalo off a nickel" and is fantastic.)
Haywood points out one major difference in Carolina and Duke: the Tar Heel alums consistently return to Chapel Hill in the summer. This is true.
Henderson counters by saying Duke has an advantage in the NBA. This is false.
Here is exactly what Henderson said: "All the stats would lead to Duke pros doing better in the pros, especially right now."
The Merion, Penn., native went on to cite points as a specific area of reference. This is a great line of reasoning and sets up the tangibles vs. intangibles argument. Sure, Henderson is saying, Carolina has that intangible "family" feeling, if you like going to a college where you'll want to return for the rest of your life and always be welcomed as if you never left. But Duke has the hard numbers.
Only they don't.
Henderson undoubtedly doesn't have time to actually look up the statistics, what with his busy schedule of swinging his elbows, trying to stay out of the way of former teammate Dahntay Jones, and being "the real victim." In order to be helpful, we looked up the numbers he referenced. Duke currently has 18 players on season-long contracts (Shavlik Randolph is on a 10-day contract, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he was once the subject of perhaps the best newspaper profile ever, which included information about his mother cutting his steak for him), assuming you count being "in the NBA" as someone like Miles Plumlee, who has seen exactly three minutes of action in the last month. Carolina has 17 players. Advantage: Duke! If Henderson had stopped here, he had a point. But knowing when to stop has never been one of his strengths.
On average, those 19 Blue Devils average 7.9 points per game in the NBA. On average, the 17 Tar Heels score 8.4 points per game. Sometimes, those points come on dunks, as when per the Yahoo! Sports account of this week's Warriors-Pistons game, Harrison Barnes "flew by Kyle Singler three times" for dunks. Oh, did you want to see the video? Here you go (Singler looks especially helpless on the second one, then basically gives up on the last one):
But maybe Duke isn't all about scoring. Maybe the Blue Devil pros are more about rebounding. Let's see: Carolina alums average a collective 60.7 rebounds per game, or 3.6 rebounds per player. Duke alums average a collective 57.8 rebounds per game, or 3.0 rebounds per player.
Duke alums are averaging 21.1 minutes per game. Carolina alums: 21.4 minutes per game. Are these sizable differences? Of course not. Both Duke players and Carolina players are some of the most productive alums in the NBA. But if your only argument is to look at the stats, and the stats don't support you, then, well, you need another argument.
Henderson mentioned salaries as another area where Duke had the advantage, which sounds like a prototypical Duke argument: But what about the money? It's curious, then, that a 2012 Wall Street Journal report confirmed that NBA-bound players from Carolina have earned more money than basketball alumni from any other college. The most mind-blowing part of that stat: the figures do not include Michael Jordan, who was drafted in 1984; the WSJ survey began in 1985. Not including Jordan in a salary discussion is like telling the Blue Devils you'll challenge them in a smarminess contest, but they can't use Christian Laettner.
Somewhere, Henderson might be able to find "all the stats" that he's referencing, but you won't see them in the above figures. In the category of "broken noses caused" or "sprained ankles given to one of the NBA's all-time best players," perhaps, the Devils have the lead, but there's one area Henderson probably doesn't want to mention: championship rings. Active Blue Devils lose that category, also, as Blue Devil alums in the pros right now have a combined one NBA title ring. Active Carolina alums, meanwhile, have two.
All-time, the gap is much wider, as UNC alums have 29 NBA championship rings--we're only counting players, because counting coaches and executives would bring it to nearly 50--while Duke has 3. Not 30, but 3, total. There are five different Carolina alums who individually have at least as many NBA title rings as the entire Duke program: Rick Fox (3), Mitch Kupchak (3 as a player, and we're not counting his as an executive), Scott Williams (3), James Worthy (3) and Michael Jordan (6).
The rings and the money are two areas where the comparison really isn't very close at all. Which coincidentally reminds us of another statistical category where the stats aren't very close: Gerald Henderson was 1-5 all-time against Carolina. And it looks like he might have just taken another defeat.