After not being selected in the 2022 NBA Draft, Syracuse legend and fan favorite Buddy Boeheim signed a two-way deal with the Detroit Pistons. The guard played 18 games at the G-League level in 2022-23, averaging 12 points per game while shooting over 37% from beyond the arc. Additionally, Boeheim saw 10 games in the NBA, averaging nine minutes per contest. Earlier this summer, Detroit renounced its rights to Boeheim despite his shooting 6-for-7 from three in two summer league games. But things have changed for the better now.
Buddy’s new deal is what’s called an “Exhibit 10”. Such contracts are for just one year with a minimum salary and can be converted into a two-way deal at the team’s discretion. However, that conversion must be enacted before the start of the regular season, which is currently scheduled for October 24. We’ll better grasp Boeheim’s situation then, but this is good news.
When Summer League play ended a few weeks ago, Buddy’s averages stood at 6.5 points per game in less than 10 minutes per contest on a 57.1% clip from three. While the playing time is pedestrian, scoring at that rate in a fairly short period is going to catch the attention of NBA and team executives. Also, what is not to love about that shooting percentage? It’s not realistic to keep that up throughout an entire season, but as we saw at Syracuse, when he’s hot he’s really hot. The Summer League play is not a good way to completely determine what a player’s NBA production might look like, but it certainly helps his case.
Now let’s look at the state of the Pistons. To say things have been a struggle for Detroit lately is a big understatement. The Pistons have finished last in their division in three straight seasons, haven’t made the postseason since before the pandemic, and just fired former coach of the year Dwane Casey. Their roster for the upcoming season doesn’t have a ton of proven difference-makers either. Cade Cunningham was hurt most of last season, Ausar Thompson has potential but it’s impossible to predict a rookie’s production, and guys like Joe Harris, Marvin Bagley, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Jaden Ivey have been solid in years past but nothing otherworldly. So there is absolutely wiggle room for Buddy to sneak onto the roster.
Boeheim has plenty of work to do if he wants to stick in the NBA, mainly in the areas that we saw develop throughout his collegiate career. His defensive game certainly improved, but he doesn’t have the raw athleticism that many of the NBA’s best possess. Playing the zone did him no favors considering man-to-man is the primary defense in the league, but teams will switch to zone to flummox opposing offenses from time to time. Additionally, he still needs to work on putting the ball on the floor and driving to the basket. The main thing Boeheim has impressed with in his professional basketball career is his deep ball prowess. That will only get you so far in the NBA.
With Carmelo Anthony and Dion Waiters among others no longer in the NBA, the number of former Orange making big differences isn’t large. Jerami Grant and Oshae Brissett are currently the only two active SU Basketball alumni. It’s going to take a lot of hard work if Boeheim is to join this exclusive club, but it’s very possible.