Since our last NBA update, quite a bit has changed. Carmelo Anthony went from unwelcome outsider, to NBA starter, to Western Conference Player of the Week. Jerami Grant continues his slow start to the season in a sixth man role, but his team is third in the West.
Dion Waiters was, well, Dion Waiters, and recently finished serving a 10-game suspension for a foolish foray into the world of illicit edibles. Michael Carter-Williams continues his latest comeback tour for the Orlando Magic. Even Oshae Brissett has gotten in on the action, appearing in four games for the Toronto Raptors.
Let’s take a closer look at how each of Syracuse basketball’s former players are doing in the NBA, starting with arguably the best player in Cuse history.
Carmelo Anthony - Portland Trailblazers
The last time we checked in on Carmelo, he was still waiting for an opportunity with an NBA team. Eventually, decimated by injuries and in a desperate need for help, the Portland Trailblazers came knocking.
Carmelo answered. Boy did he ever.
After a sluggish first three games where he was clearly shaking off the rust, Carmelo caught fire. In three games last week, he averaged 22.3 points and 7.7 rebounds, while shooting 57.4 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from 3-point range. Portland won all three games, and Carmelo won player of the week honors in the Western conference.
Carmelo has returned back to planet earth briefly since then, scoring just nine points against the Clippers on 2-for-9 shooting, but torched the Kings on Wednesday for 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting to make it four wins in the past five games for the Trailblazers.
Jerami Grant - Denver Nuggets
After a breakout season last year and a scintillating preseason this year, the stage seemed to be set for Jerami Grant to take the next step. Unfortunately, that hasn’t quite panned out. Grant is playing backup to the veteran Paul Millsap, which has certainly limited his chance to shine, especially considering Millsap is having a breakout year of his own.
Grant’s minutes are down to just 22 a game, and that hurt his productivity and consistency. After averaging career highs in minutes (32), points (13.6), rebounds (5.2), and 3-point percentage (39.2), he has seen significant drops in all four categories. Unfortunately that has included his 3-point shooting, which is down to 31.6 percent.
However, his defense and flexibility is as important as ever, and things will change with his playing time after this season as Paul Millsap nears retirement. So while Grant is in a bit of a slump, he will have every opportunity to turn it around in Denver.
Dion Waiters - Miami Heat
Dion Waiters still hasn’t entered a game this season. After serving a 10 game suspension for eating a marijuana infused gummy, during which he made a guest appearance at Syracuse University, he didn’t see action against the Boston Celtics even though he was available.
And honestly, that might not change in the near future. Miami is 15-6 and in a tie for fourth in the East, a mere three and a half games back from first place Milwaukee. He’s also behind Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn, both of whom are playing quite well and averaging more than a dozen points each.
This could be the end of the road for Dion in Miami. It seems he’s worn out his welcome. The question is, where will he go from here?
Michael Carter-Williams - Orlando Magic
Michael Carter-Williams is playing about 15 minutes per game, but has struggled with his production. He’s averaging just 4.7 points, 3 rebounds, and a career-low 1.6 assists per game. His shooting hasn’t been any better at 28.8 percent from the field (another career low) and 15.8 percent from 3-point range.
It’s Carter-Williams defense that is keeping him on the floor. His size and athleticism allow him to guard multiple positions and he quickness and instincts usually have him in the right place at the right time. If his shot ever comes back, he has the potential to see a much bigger role.
Oshae Brissett - Toronto Raptors
First, let me just say this. Good for Oshae! I’m so excited to see him playing in the league. I don’t think he was ever really comfortable in Boeheim’s system, but I’m glad to see him spread his wings and get his opportunity in the NBA.
So far, Oshae has gotten into four games. Did I mention he’s playing for the defending NBA champions? That’s a pretty impressive feat for someone who was barely even on draft boards six months ago.
In those four games, Oshae has one score, a three-pointer he made against the Orlando Magic. It’s the only three he’s taken, so he’s effectively the best three point shooter, percentage-wise, that Syracuse has ever had in the NBA!
Bad jokes aside, Brissett also has 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 1 turnover to his name in the NBA. Here’s hoping he continues to get opportunities to prove himself!