NEW YORK, N.Y. — Former Duke men’s basketball stars Jayson Tatum and Zion Williamson have earned their first career All-NBA honors, which were announced this week by the league. Tatum was named third-team All-NBA, while Williamson was a first-team All-Rookie pick.
Tatum becomes the fifth Blue Devil to earn a spot on an All-NBA Team, and at 22 years old, becomes the youngest Boston Celtics player to garner All-NBA honors. For Duke, he joins Grant Hill (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000), Elton Brand (2006), Carlos Boozer (2008) and Kyrie Irving (2015, 2019) as previous All-NBA picks.
The 2019-20 campaign was a double-breakout season for Tatum, who emerged as an All-Star during the first half of the season, before ascending toward superstardom during the second half and into the Playoffs. He led Boston in scoring, averaging 23.0 points per game, while also posting career highs in rebounds (7.0 per game), assists (3.0 per game), steals (1.4 per game), and blocks (0.9 per game).
The versatile wing also made 189 3-pointers over the course of 66 games, which would have put him on pace for 235 triples had the regular season not been shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That would have placed him just 10 3-pointers shy of Isaiah Thomas’ single-season franchise record set during the 2016-17 season.
Williamson, who was selected by New Orleans with the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, becomes the 16th former Blue Devil to earn an All-Rookie nod. Duke has boasted at least one All-Rookie pick in five straight seasons and eight of the last nine. Six of the nine selections over that span have been first-teamers – Irving (2012), Mason Plumlee (2014), Jahlil Okafor (2016), Tatum, (2018), Marvin Bagley III (2019) and Williamson (2020).
Williamson appeared in 24 games and averaged 22.5 points on .583 shooting from the floor, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists. The forward ranked first among all rookies in points per game, second in rebounds per game, and first in offensive rebounds per game with 2.7. The consensus college National Player of the Year in 2019 joined elite company during his first NBA season, becoming the first rookie since Michael Jordan to post 16 20-point games within their first 20 contests, and posted the highest scoring average through his first 24 career NBA games since Jordan in 1983.
Announced in late August, the Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram became the first former Duke Blue Devil to be named the NBA’s Most Improved Player.
The All-NBA and All-Rookie teams were selected by a global media panel and the voting was conducted based on regular-season games played through March 11. The seeding games, which were played July 30-Aug. 14 as part of the 2019-20 season restart, did not count toward voting for the All-NBA or All-Rookie teams.