As of Friday, we’re officially one month through the NBA season. We’ve already seen a lot go down, from the Warriors shocking fall from grace, to LeBron putting up MVP numbers in year 17 to Luka Doncic asserting himself as one of the league’s elite players. It’s been a fun ride so far, but what have the six former Syracuse players currently on NBA rosters (two-way contracts included) been up to?
If you had told us a month ago that we’d be doing an update on Carmelo Anthony’s NBA season in 2019, we’d have been a little confused. Melo hadn’t played a game in the Association since last November and there hadn’t been any rumblings when he made an appearance at the Dome for the opener against Virginia. That changed last week when he signed with the Portland Trail Blazers. Since the signing, Melo’s made two appearances with Portland and started both. After a ten-point outing in his first game in more than a year, he exploded for 18 points on 40% shooting (3-5 from three), seven boards and four assists against the Bucks on Thursday night. His new contract isn’t guaranteed but if he keeps putting up those kinds of numbers he could stick around.
For a guy that won the Rookie of the Year Award back in 2014, MCW has never been able to find a consistent sticking point throughout his career. He’s currently with the Orlando Magic, his sixth team in seven years and is having a so-so season. Carter-Williams is currently averaging 4.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg and 1.3 apg for the Magic in a bench role, but an old injury issue has flared up again. MCW reinjured the same hip that forced him to have season-ending surgery back in 2016 in a game against the Bucks on Sunday. A Wednesday MRI determined that the injury was not as severe as some feared, but no timetable has been set for his return.
Grant was traded from the Thunder to the Nuggets for a first-round pick this summer and is already starting to pay dividends for his new team. Grant is averaging 9.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg and 1.2 apg as Denver’s sixth man. The Nuggets currently sit a game-and-a-half back of the first-place Lakers in the Western Conference and could make some serious noise in the playoffs if things fall the right way. If Denver wants to have the postseason success it’s been searching for for so many years, then Grant is going to be a big part of it.
When both Brissett and Tyus Battle elected to head to the NBA after last season, the question of who had more potential at the next level started to creep in. Early (very early mind you) returns say it might be Oshae. While Tyus is currently averaging 5 points and 23 minutes with the Iowa Wolves of the G-League, Oshae is on a two-way contract with his hometown Raptors and has already made his NBA debut. The former SU star drilled a triple (important for his career prospects) for his first career bucket back on Wednesday.
We’ll see if there’s more to come at the NBA-level this season but even if there isn’t, Oshae’s 15 ppg in his first three G-League games of the season with the Raptors 905 are indicative of the hot start his pro career is off to.
Despite playing most of his collegiate career at LaSalle, B.J. Johnson started his career at Syracuse and deserves a little love. His NBA roster status is a mixture of Tyus and Oshae with Johnson being on a two-way contract like Brissett but so far playing exclusively in the G-League like Battle. Through six starts so far this season with the Lakeland Magic, Johnson is averaging 20 points per game and is shooting over 45% from downtown. Couple that with 5.5 rebounds and over three assists per game and Johnson is off to a scorching start that could see him in Orlando at some point this year.
Waiters has been Syracuse’s best NBA player over the past few years but has yet to play in a game this season. He’s currently in the midst of his second suspension of the season with the Miami Heat after an incident on the team plane a few weeks ago. He attended the Seattle game in the Dome last weekend and has been in Syracuse over the last week to get advice from Jim Boeheim. We’ll have to see where his career goes from here.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Syracuse talent that’s currently brewing in the G-League on non-two-way deals because there are guys down there having very impressive seasons:
Tyler Ennis (Raptors 905): 18 ppg, 9.5 apg, 5.3 rpg, 3.5 spg
Andrew White III (Westchester Knicks): 24.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 68.6% 3FG
Tyler Roberson (Agua Caliente Clippers): 7 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 66.&% FG
Tyus Battle (Iowa Wolves): 5.4 ppg, 4 rpg, 45.8% FG