While the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball season wrapped up a couple months ago, there’s still related hoops action to watch if you choose to acknowledge the existence of the NBA (and I certainly do).
The NBA regular season just wrapped up on Sunday, and the playoffs are about to start. So with that, we wanted to both recap what transpired for Orange alums this regular season, and provide a quick primer on what to expect for the choice few left in the playoffs.
Carmelo Anthony, Portland Trail Blazers
The ‘Melo redemption tour continued this season, as the veteran played a key role coming in off the bench for the Blazers while averaging 13.4 points and three boards per game. More impressively, Anthony was hitting threes at a higher rate (40.9%) than at any other point in his career, and also had his most accurate season from the line at 89%. As you may remember, he’s also now a top-10 scorer of all-time.
Even without starting, he was essential for Portland as the team shortened the rotation for a late playoff run to wrap up the 6-seed. Next up, the Blazers face the Denver Nuggets. ‘Melo is looking to get out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2013, when he was leading the New York Knicks.
Oshae Brissett, Indiana Pacers
It was a major disappointment when Brissett didn’t make the Toronto Raptors’ roster last offseason. Yet, it may have worked out for the best as Oshae stood out in the G League before making the jump to the Pacers in the second half of the season. He’s been excellent since arriving, starting 16 of 21 games and averaging 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 24 minutes per game. He’s also improved his shooting from three, hitting 42.3% of his tries from outside on nearly four attempts per game. Brissett closed the regular season with a career-high 31 points vs. his old team, the Raptors.
Next up is a Tuesday night play-in game vs. the Charlotte Hornets in the 9 vs. 10 game.
Michael Carter-Williams, Orlando Magic
MCW’s quietly resuscitated his time in the NBA, playing the last two and a half years with the Magic and even starting 25 games this year before injury. Before he went out, he was averaging 8.8 points, 4.5 boards and 4.2 assists per game while playing quality defense. Though his shooting isn’t great, he’s been able to provide quality minutes for several years now and just put in his best season since he was starting games for the Bucks in 2016.
Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons
For casual NBA viewers, you’re forgiven for not knowing just how impressive of a season Grant played for the lowly Pistons this season. After never averaging more than 13.6 points per game, he put up 22.3 this year over 54 contests, improved at the line (hit 84% of his free throws) and overall looked to further develop his game as a shooter while at a higher volume than at any other point in his career. Was this a bit of a classic stat-stuffing season for a bad team? Maybe. But that shouldn’t take away from the quality work Grant’s clearly put in to improve on the offensive end.
Elijah Hughes, Utah Jazz
Hughes spent some time in the G League this year, but a lot more at the NBA level and he’s actually been appearing in more games of late. Of his 15 games this year, four came since April 30, including a win over the San Antonio Spurs that saw him equal a season high of six points in his rookie campaign. Don’t expect to see a ton of him in the playoffs, unfortunately, especially once Donovan Mitchell returns.
Despite a short list of active alums right now, three of them will have a chance to appear in at least one playoff game this year. Not too bad.
As mentioned, Brissett will be in the play-in game on Tuesday. Then series schedules for the Jazz and Blazers (and potentially the Pacers) will be sorted out for the weekend.