Outside of Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse basketball is notorious for producing pro‚Äôs that do not live up to their expectations.
The highlight of Dion Waiters‚Äô career after being selected fourth overall in 2012 is riding the bench on a championship-winning Laker team last year. Even after winning Rookie of the Year in 2014, Michael Carter-Williams never really found his place. Former first-round picks Tyler Ennis, Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon are out of the league. Meanwhile, no Syracuse fan has to be reminded about the monstrous bust that was Jonny Flynn. But SU finally has some solid representation at the next level, and he just cashed in.
Jerami Grant parlayed his six-man success on a surging Nuggets team into a three year, $60 million deal with the Detroit Pistons.
The price tag is impressive for a forward who only started 24 games last year, but the most noteworthy aspect of the deal is that Denver was willing to match the offer sheet. They didn‚Äôt want Grant going anywhere, but the former second-rounder was promised an enhanced offensive role in the Motor City. Grant earned the ability to choose, something few SU basketball alums achieve in the NBA.
Ironically, despite coming from the 2-3 Zone, Grant best served the Nuggets as a lengthy defender, who could also shoot at times. He averaged 12.0 points per game, 3.5 rebounds and hit 39% of his three-pointers for Denver last year.
Detroit is likely still working on its roster. The Pistons last finished over .500 in 2016, and seem to be stuck in the purgatory of 8-seed or lottery. Head Coach Dwayne Casey will probably look to Grant as one of the veterans in the locker room to mold the younger players at the heart of the rebuild. Former SU commit Isaiah Stewart was taken 16th overall by the Trailblazers in this year‚Äôs draft. The Nets called Villanova forward Saddiq Bay‚Äôs name with the 19th pick. Both were shipped to the Pistons.
The key variable in determining Grant‚Äôs role, however, is Blake Griffin. Detroit owes the six-time All-Star $75.5 million over the next two seasons. It is no secret that the Pistons are looking to move the forward to dump his contract and to ensure more reps for the youth movement. But Casey will have no choice but to play Griffin if he is on the roster come opening night.
Whatever happens with the Pistons‚Äô lineup card, Grant doesn‚Äôt have to work after this contract expires. From here on out, dinner is on him. Syracuse fans were able to point to Grant during the playoffs last year and take pride in the two seasons he spent on the Hill. But if nothing else, this contract validates some Orange success in the NBA.