The NBA has reached the mid-season mark, which seemed like a good time to check in on all of the former Syracuse Orange players currently in the league. When we last took at look at all the SU basketball pros, many were doing pretty well, even if shuttling in between the D-League and NBA.
So how about now? Here’s a quick assessment of every former Syracuse player in the NBA (in some capacity) for 2016-17, with notes on outlook for the rest of the year, too.
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
Melo’s started 41 of 42 games for the Knicks this year, sitting out one due to suspension. He’s averaging 22.2 points per game, which is respectable, but this year’s play has definitely declined a little vs. the rest of his career numbers. Rebounds and field goal percentage are down, while defensive lapses have increased. Still, he’s one of New York’s two most important players. Trade talks are starting to bubble up. We’ll see if they materialize into anything.
Michael Carter-Williams, Chicago Bulls
MCW’s been hampered by injuries this year, but has been effective in the 15 games he’s played in thus far. Starting the last nine for the Bulls, he’s largely been putting up at least 10 points per night (high of 15 vs. Oklahoma City). Still, his overall numbers are down quite a bit from his previous averages. If he stays on this pace, it’ll be his first season as a pro under 10 points per game.
Rakeem Christmas, Indiana Pacers
Christmas hasn’t appeared for the Pacers since November, but he hasn’t suited up much for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the D-League, either. At Fort Wayne, he’s averaging 13 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in five starts. At Indiana, he’s averaging one point and one rebound per game. It’s unlikely he gets more chances to crack the lineup for the Pacers, but perhaps a change of scenery gives him more opportunities.
Tyler Ennis, Houston Rockets
After starting the season with some consistent minutes, those numbers have dropped off considerably for the former Orange point guard. Over the last month, Ennis is averaging less than five minutes per game, with minimal stats to show for it, too. He’s appeared in 24 contests, but again, a lot of that’s front-loaded. Most of his contributions have been limited to garbage time during the Rockets’ recent hot streak. It’s possible that the D-League could be a more helpful fit right now.
Michael Gbinije, Detroit Pistons
Gbinije’s been dealing with a forearm bruise that’s kept him out of late, but in general, the Pistons haven’t inserted him into the rotation much. In eight games, he’s seen about 20 total minutes, scoring a total of four points in the process. When he’s healthy again, it may make more sense for Silent G to head down to the D-League where he can get more playing time and continue to improve against pro talent.
Jerami Grant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Grant’s been playing more of a supporting role in OKC (vs. what he did in Philly), so it makes sense that his offensive numbers are down across the board. He’s averaging 6.1 points per game in around 21 minutes per night, though his shooting percentage (just over 43 percent) is the best of his career so far. Grant’s value has more been on the defensive end as a bigger body to help against taller lineups. He’s not much of a force on the boards (2.6 rebounds per), but he’s been a positive overall contributor for the Thunder.
Wesley Johnson, Los Angeles Clippers
Johnson returned from injury some time ago, but his contributions since have been modest. Overall minutes are down (13.6 per), as are just about every other metric. He’s scoring a career-low 3.2 points per game and seems less comfortable in his role with the Clippers this season. Injuries elsewhere on the team could change that role and allow him to get more involved in the offense. But given what he’s produced so far, it’s debatable if Coach Doc Rivers gives him that sort of chance.
Chris McCullough, Brooklyn Nets
McCullough’s been a force in the D-League (19.6 points, 8.3 rebounds per game in 22 starts for Long Island), which is why he keeps earning his way right back up to Brooklyn. With the parent-club Nets, he’s seen the floor in just 11 games, but is averaging 2.6 points and 1.5 rebounds per appearance. His field goal percentage is improved, and efficiency numbers are also trending upwards. He’ll be breaking into the regular rotation eventually.
Arinze Onuaku, Free Agent
Onuaku played sparingly with Orlando given the team’s pre-existing logjam at the center and power forward positions. He was recently released of his contract and is now a free agent. We’ll see where he ends up. In very short time on the floor, he was averaging less than a point and a rebound per game.
Malachi Richardson, Sacramento Kings
Given time on the floor, Richardson’s made the most of it for the Kings. In the only two games where he’s played 10 or more minutes, he’s scored seven points in each. His field goal percentage (38.5 percent) may not look so great, but again, that likely comes with more time on the floor. In earlier D-League stints with the Reno Bighorns, he was averaging 21 points per on 43 percent shooting. If he sticks around with the Kings and actually gets some minutes, he could work his way into the regular rotation eventually (unless the team trades for veteran help in a desperate playoff push).
Dion Waiters, Miami Heat
Waiters returned from a groin muscle issue five games ago, and there may still be some lingering effects based on the drop-off from before he went out back in November. At the quarter-season mark, he was averaging about 14.2 points per game, and that’s now down to 12.8 (his career average). His output since returning has been closer to eight points per, with some worse efficiency numbers (just one game on the positive end of plus/minus) and a field goal percentage hovering around 30 percent. He’ll need to improve quickly for the Heat.