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Syracuse in the NBA: Quarter-season check-in

How are all of the former Orange players doing so far?

NBA: New York Knicks at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA has wrapped up about a quarter of its season so far. Given the sizeable number of former Syracuse Orange basketball players in the league to some capacity, we figured this would be a good place to check in on how they’re all doing.

Below is a quick assessment of every SU player in the NBA for 2016-17, with notes on their performance thus far, applicable D-League stints and outlook for the rest of the year.

(listed alphabetically)

Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

Melo’s started all 21 games for the ‘Bockers so far, collecting 23 points and six points per. While his assist numbers have gone down by about two per game compared to last year (he best season as a distributor, honestly), his shooting quality -- .491 effective field goal percentage is one of the top figures he’s put up as a pro — has appeared to go up in 2016-17, despite an uptick in shots. Most importantly, the Knicks are somehow tied for third in the East right now. And Carmelo hasn’t been tasked with carrying them there, either. All is well for the time being.

Michael Carter-Williams, Chicago Bulls

Carter-Williams has been shuttled around the league a bit since his rookie of a the year award just a few years ago. On team three now, he’s finding himself in a crowded Bulls backcourt with little opportunity to see valuable minutes. In three games this year, he’s averaged four points and 2.7 assists in 15 minutes per contest. Those are the lowest marks of his career, and seem unlikely to shift as long as he remains on a Chicago roster loaded with guards. He’ll have his work cut out for him breaking into the rotation once he returns from the bone chip he suffered in his sprained right wrist.

Rakeem Christmas, Indiana Pacers

Christmas started the year as a member of the Pacers, but has gone back and forth between Indianapolis and the D-League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants. With Fort Wayne, he’s averaged 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in three contests. With the Pacers, he’s averaged one point and 0.7 rebounds per appearance in three games (less than five minutes in each). The Pacers’ front court is pretty big, and that’s going to limit his chances to play in Indiana, barring injuries in front of him.

Tyler Ennis, Houston Rockets

Ennis has actually stuck around the NBA all season, despite concerns about him making the Rockets’ roster. The former Orange guard has averaged 2.8 points and 1.4 assists per appearance as a reserve in 14 contests so far. While he’s not earning a ton of minutes (less than nine per outing), he’s shown himself to be a capable enough reserve for Houston, and has seemingly been pushed a bit more by the Rockets’ increased offensive tempo.

Michael Gbinije, Detroit Pistons

Gbinije hasn’t played a ton for Detroit just yet, and in his limited minutes, he’s struggled shooting the basketball. In six appearances (21 total minutes), he’s just 1-for-8 from the floor, and has four points. He’s also suited up for the D-League’s Grand Rapids Drive twice, though his shot hasn’t seemed to fall there either. Playing nearly 35 minutes per game there, he’s averaged just nine points per — though he’s also collected 10 total rebounds, too. He may settle in Grand Rapids before the year’s up to continue trying to improve his shot.

Jerami Grant, Oklahoma City Thunder

Following an explosive couple years with the Philadelphia 76ers, Grant was traded to OKC early this season. The trade’s seemed to work out for the best for him, even if his numbers have dipped slightly. In 20 minutes per game, he’s hitting nearly 50 percent of his shots and scoring 6.2 points per game. He’s grabbing less than three rebounds per game, however, which is something worth improving. The Thunder needed a bit more size and consistency from a rotation player. Grant’s seemingly provided that, even if it’s without too much flash.

Wesley Johnson, Los Angeles Clippers

A heel contusion’s slowed Wes down a bit in his second season with the Clippers. And despite returning from the injury last week, he’s found himself out of the rotation as the team gives out minutes elsewhere. In 16 games, Johnson is only averaging 12 minutes per (down from 20 last year), amassing 2.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 0.6 blocks. If this numbers and low minutes hold, it would be his worst season as a pro so far.

Chris McCullough, Brooklyn Nets

McCullough’s bounced back and forth between Brooklyn and the D-League’s Long Island Nets, but he has found a way to thrive when sent down. In eight appearance for Long Island this year, he’s averaging 20 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. His numbers with Brooklyn aren’t nearly as impressive — 2.7 points and 1.7 rebounds per over the course of nine games — but eventually those D-League numbers will be hard to ignore. He should push for more minutes on the young Nets’ roster when he gets called back up.

Arinze Onuaku, Orlando Magic

Finally making it onto an opening night roster, Onuaku’s journey to the NBA’s been a long and tiring one for the 29-year old. While he hasn’t been seeing the floor much (one basket in 12 minutes of play), he’s remained with Orlando and their glut of big men on the depth chart. The roster composition may prevent Onuaku from playing much, but it seems unlikely that changes for the time being.

Malachi Richardson, Sacramento Kings

Malachi’s another former Syracuse star who’s only had limited NBA opportunities this year (1.5 points per game in two appearances), but has made a major impact at the D-League level. In eight games with the Reno Bighorns, he’s averaged 21 points and four rebounds per, and is a standout for the team. While the ultimate goal is obviously to remain on the NBA roster, the growth of the D-League has allowed for more young players to continue growing and developing before being fully thrust into the fire. Richardson’s taking advantage of that.

Dion Waiters, Miami Heat

Through 16 games, Waiters was putting up some of his strongest offensive basketball to-date for the rebuilding Heat, but then he tore a groin muscle in late November. He’s been out since then, but could return soon, depending on how evaluations go. The year had started well for him, however, with 14.2 points and four rebounds per game in nearly 32 minutes with him as the starter. Those points were also amassed on volume shooting performances (over 14 shots per game) and the lowest field goal percentage (38.4) of his career. But that’s neither here nor there. He’ll be back in the starting lineup when fully recovered from injury.


Anything else you’d like to note about Syracuse’s 11 NBA players this season? Share below.