Winter of our discontent: Syracuse players struggling in NBA

Jim Boeheim’s tenure as the head coach at Syracuse has been nothing short of storied.

He’s won a national title, multiple Big East championships, and more 20-win seasons than any other coach in history. This winning environment has attracted numerous top recruits, many of whom have gone on to the NBA.

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And, right now, a few of them probably wish they could come back.

Carmelo Anthony “requested” a trade back to the Syracuse City State in order to form a dream team with the Amare Stoudemire and coach Mike D’Antoni on the Knicks. That dream died pretty quickly, as it’s become apparent that nothing about this combo is really a good fit.

Stoudemire and new, expensive, injury-prone addition Tyson Chandler have been hugely disappointing, scoring -3.7 and -1.4 on 82games.com’s Simple Rating with miserable +/- numbers. Their combined salaries may have created a cap situation that not even the rumored arrival of Phil Jackson can fix.

As frustrating as that may be, I doubt Carmelo would be willing to trade places with Donté Greene on the Sacramento Kings. Our own Prodigal Son (who admits that he maybe should have stuck around) is currently stuck between Jimmer-mania and DeMarcus Cousins’ regular mania as a backup and spot starter for the second worst team in the Western Conference. An injury to Marcus Thornton may allow him the minutes to audition for a bigger role somewhere (anywhere) else.

Jonny Flynn’s team situation is far more promising, assuming he has any role in it going forward. The emergence of ex-Villanova Wildcat Kyle Lowry has downgraded Flynn to occasional backup for the Houston Rockets.

He’s been a regular on the DNP-Coach’s Decision list, seeing time in fewer than half of Houston’s games. At this point, it’s becoming clear that Flynn isn’t cut out to start at the point in the NBA, and his 26 percent shooting this season isn’t making the best case for him as a bench scorer, either.

Flynn’s former teammate Wes Johnson has joined him this year on the single-digit Player Efficiency Rating (PER) Club. His Minnesota Timberwolves have become a hot ticket behind the play of Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio (whose selection one spot ahead of Flynn in the draft created the mess that helped derail his career), but Johnson has been, by many statistical measures, the worst player on the team.

His shooting numbers are down, his +/- is -34 (behind only the great Darko Milicic) and his simple rating is a miserable -9.8. The high-level of play from Rubio and veteran Luke Ridnour has pushed Johnson off the court in favor of two-point-guard lineups, placing his role in the team’s future in question.

One future that isn’t in question is Steve Nash, whose career is Phoenix is coming to an uninspiring close. Rather than just taking a front row seat, our own Hakim Warrick decided to play a supporting role by having his least efficient season since his rookie campaign (.472 shooting, 3.1 rebounds, 0.2 steals, all worst since that year). His uninspiring performance bodes ill for his participation in the rebuilding efforts to come.

Professional basketball is full of ups and downs. We know our Saltine Warriors can handle gray skies, and it’ll just be a matter of time until the ‘Cuse rises again. And even if things don’t clear up soon, I hear it’s nice in Spain this time of year.

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