From Puerto Plata to a sea of difficult trials until finally arriving in the NBA. Chris Duarte’s wait came to an end last night, when at 9:25 a.m., he received his visa to the best basketball in the world when he was selected in the 13th round of the first round by the Indiana Pacers.
The 24-year-old 6′-6” shooting guard thus joins the list of Dominicans who have been selected in the draft by the demanding league, which includes Alfred “Tito” Horford (Milwaukee Bucks, 1988); Luis Felipe Lopez (first round, 24th round by San Antonio and traded to Vancouver); Luis Flores (Houston Rockets, 2004); Charlie Villanueva (first-round pick in the seventh round in 2005 by Toronto Raptors); Francisco García (first round, 23rd pick by Sacramento Kings, 2005) and Al Horford, “Tito’s” son, (third overall pick in 2007 by Atlanta Hawks), among others. It is worth noting that Karl Anthony Towns-Cruz, who has a Dominican mother, was the first overall pick in 2015 by Minnesota.
Duarte, one of the older talents in last night’s process, was not always the prized talent he became when he excelled in the last NCAA college basketball tournament with Oregon, where he shined with averages of 17.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. In addition, he shot 53.2 from the field, 42.4 from three and 81.0 from the free throw line. He earned the Jerry West Award, which is given to the best at his position and, among several honors earned, he was also the Player of the Year of his conference (Pac-12).
Not everything was rosy for the Dominican before wearing the Ducks’ green jersey. His father, of Canadian nationality, died when he was a child, which forced his mother to take care of everything at home. He went through several schools and a university in Florida until he landed at Oregon, playing there for the 2019-2020 and 2020-21 seasons.
Being selected in the first round immediately grants him a pact for four seasons, with two of them guaranteed. Initial media reports last night indicated that Duarte could sign for around $14 million, with $6 million guaranteed.
The Dominican flag was present at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, the site of the draft. Commissioner Adam Silver mentioned the Criollo’s name with his provenance from the Dominican Republic. Here, in his homeland, he was followed up. Duarte hugged his wife, son and brother before stepping up to the podium to put on his Indiana cap after a salute to Silver.
It’s official: welcome to the NBA, Chris Duarte.