Three Syracuse players—Dion Waiters, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph—are expected to be taken among the 60 picks in June’s NBA Draft, with the underclassmen Waiters and Melo presumed first rounders. Guard Scoop Jardine also has an outside chance of being drafted.
If Waiters, Melo and Joseph are drafted, that number would equal the amount of SU players drafted in the last three years combined. In the last five drafts, dating back to 2007, five Syracuse players have been drafted.
In last year’s draft, Rick Jackson went undrafted after potentially being a second-round pick and turned to professional ball in Spain. So we must look to 2010 to find the most recent SU players drafted. That year, both Wes Johnson and Andy Rautins were picked, with Johnson going fourth overall and Rautins being scooped up in the second round.
Just one year earlier, Jonny Flynn was the lone Syracuse player to be selected in the draft, despite the early exits from school by Paul Harris and Eric Devendorf. That was the third straight year that the Orange had one player taken, following first-round pick Donté Greene in 2008 and second-round selection Demetris Nichols in 2007.
The three Orange players likely to be selected this year represent just about every situation potential draftees find themselves in. There’s Waiters, who could be a lottery pick, Melo, who’s expected to be picked at the tail end of the first round, and, finally Joseph, who many have going in Round 2.
Out of the last five players drafted by NBA teams—Johnson, Rautins, Flynn, Greene and Nichols—each were drafted with varying expectations and each have gone through many ups and downs since hearing their name called.
Here’s a look at how those five have fared since their draft nights:
Wes Johnson, No. 4 overall, Minnesota Timberwolves, 2010 Draft
Nobody could have predicted the kind of influence Johnson would have on the 2009-10 Syracuse squad prior to the season. After transferring from Iowa State, Johnson joined what was considered a partially deflated team following the departures of Flynn, Harris and Devendorf. But in teaming up with Rautins and big man Arinze Onuaku, Johnson became a star in his lone season at Syracuse and in turn was picked fourth in the 2010 Draft.
In his two seasons in Minnesota, Johnson has seen mixed results. After earning a spot on the All-Rookie second team and averaging nine points per game, Johnson’s averages dipped his second year in the league in points and assists. Still, he’s only two seasons into the league. But he’ll need to find his place on the young T-Wolves in the future if he hopes to translate his collegiate success at the pro level.
Andy Rautins, No. 38 overall, New York Knicks, 2010 Draft
After earning a reputation as a knock-down 3-point shooter on a talented Syracuse team, Rautins hasn’t found much success in the League. In fact, he isn’t even in it anymore. He spent much of his first season on the bench or injured for the Knicks, appearing in just five games and averaging fewer than two points. Right before this season started, he was traded to the Mavericks and subsequently waived. This past season he played in Spain for CB Lucentum Alicante.
Jonny Flynn, No. 6 overall, Minnesota Timberwolves, 2009 Draft
Flynn became a star in just two seasons at Syracuse, leading the Orange to the Sweet 16 in 2009. In the Draft, the T-Wolves picked Flynn right after they selected Ricky Rubio. With Rubio staying in Spain, Flynn had his chance. And he didn’t disappoint, starting all 81 games he played in for Minnesota while averaging 13.5 points per game and 4.4 assists his rookie year. But his production has significantly dropped since.
The summer following his rookie year, he had hip surgery and came back to average just 5.3 points in his second season. During last year’s Draft he was traded to the Rockets. But he played in just 11 games with Houston and averaged fewer than four points per game.
In March Flynn was again traded, this time to Portland. In 18 games with the Blazers, Flynn averaged 5.2 points per game. It will be hard for Flynn to rediscover his touch from his rookie season. But like Johnson, he too is still young and can recover from his injuries to mount a comeback.
Donté Greene, No. 28 overall, Memphis Grizzlies, 2008 Draft
Greene played just one season at Syracuse but led the team in scoring. He was drafted by the Grizzlies following his freshman year but was traded to the Rockets and then the Kings. He’s had a modest yet unspectacular NBA career, never averaging in double digits in points scored, and has yet to taste the playoffs in his four years in the League.
Demetris Nichols, No. 53 overall, Portland Trailblazers, 2007 Draft
Demetris Nichols isn’t always a name that comes to mind when you think of Syracuse players that were drafted. Yet following his second-round selection in 2007, Nichols somehow managed to play 18 games in two seasons, appearing in games for the Bulls, Cavaliers and Knicks. He’s been out of the NBA since the ’08-’09 season. He played this past season for Cholet in France.Rachel Marcus