If Carmelo Anthony is not the greatest Syracuse basketball player ever, he’s certainly the most visible. Dave Bing is in the Hall of Fame. Derrick Coleman was drafted higher. Lawrence Moten scored more points. But Carmelo will live forever in school lore for delivering its only national championship, and thus all eyes are on him in CNY every step of his career.
Right now, his Oklahoma City squad is dealing with an embarrassing first round exit. Utah rode one of the most explosive playoffs debuts ever for a rookie, and Donovan Mitchell’s bunch took the series in 6. Melo and his high profile teammates never quite seemed on the same page this season. While they’ve had individual moments of greatness, and Russell Westbrook once again deified physics, the Thunder lacked a cohesion needed for a championship run. He’s due nearly $28 million next season from the Thunder, whether he’s on the team or not. So more than likely, he’s got one more year in OKC. But Melo’s dazzling career looks to be dimming quickly, and now he’s chafing at the idea of coming off the bench.
While Melo is once again stopped short of the NBA Finals, so is his teammate, former Orange Jerami Grant. He got decent minutes for the Thunder, including a series-high 13 points in Game 2.
Dion Waiters is one of the most polarizing players in SU history, and he was sorely missed by the Heat. Miami was eliminated by Philadelphia in 5, and it could’ve used Waiters’ instant scoring in this series. The Sixers throw waves of offense at opponents, and Waiters could’ve helped answer that. But he’s been out with an injured ankle and the Heat season evaporated.
Chris McCullough’s decision to jump to the NBA after a knee injury at Syracuse was always questionable, and now he’s a G-League player for the Wizards. While Washington pushed the top-seeded Raptors, C-Mac played very sparingly for the parent club in the NBA. So while the Wiz went to the playoffs, McCullough was not part of it.
What does the NBA Playoff betting guide look like? The best odds to win the NBA Finals is the Warriors at +100, and the Rockets are just behind them at +190. The Sixers are the best odds in the East at +700. Syracuse has churned out plenty of NBA draft picks since Melo and co. won the ’03 title, but the light has gone out in the NBA Playoffs once again.