The NBA Draft is now less than one week away. The predictions, picks and comparisons have all been made. But the truth is, we won’t know how good or bad players are until they hit the court. And sometimes, it takes a few years to really get an idea of just how good a player is.
With that being said, let’s take a look at expectations versus reality for recent Syracuse draft picks. Two years ago I looked back at recent picks, so it’ll be interesting to see what’s changed since.
Maybe it’ll give us an idea of how this year’s draftees will fare. We’ll start in 2010 and work our way up to this year (let’s spare the busts of Donté Greene and Jonny Flynn). Let’s also limit it to players who were actually drafted (sorry Arinze, Rick Jackson, Scoop, and Southerland).
Wes Johnson: Round 1, Pick 4, Minnesota Timberwolves
Expectations: Oh Wes Johnson. He was magical during the 2009-2010 season for Syracuse. He was athletic, rangy, and could knock down 3s. This was all going to translate to the NBA!
Reality: Don’t call Wes a bust. Yes, he’s bounced around various teams. And no, he hasn’t lived up to those No. 4-pick expectations. But he’s still in the NBA and is a somewhat serviceable role player. Disappointment? Definitely. But he’s hanging around.
Andy Rautins: Round 2, Pick 38 (overall), New York Knicks
Expectations: Could Andy Rautins carve out a niche role as a knock-down 3-point shooter off the bench?
Reality: Apparently not. Andy was out of New York (and the NBA) after just 5 games.
No Syracuse draft picks.
Dion Waiters: Round 1, Pick 4, Cleveland Cavaliers
Expectations: Waiters went higher than expected. Nonetheless, he was supposed to be a running mate for Kyrie Irving. All-Star? Why not. He was the No. 4 pick.
Reality: I think people are too harsh on Waiters. In his two NBA seasons, he’s averaged around 15 points per game on not-so-good Cavs teams. He’s a decent NBA player. Yes, he has his flaws, and no, he may never be an All-Star, but he’s certainly fared better than other SU products in the NBA.
Fab Melo: Round 1, Pick 22, Boston Celtics
Expectations: Melo was to be a defensive stalwart. Throw in some blocks, paint protection, and you’ve got a man in the middle, Celtics.
Reality: Bust. Bust. Bust. Didn’t play in the NBA last season. A big work in progress. Was traded to the Texas Legends of the D-League in January.
Kris Joseph: Round 2, Pick 51 (overall), Boston Celtics
Expectations: Kris Joseph was a classic four-year college guy. But he peaked his junior year, came back for his senior year, and just barely got drafted. Could he perhaps be a role player?
Reality: Bounced around from Boston to Brooklyn to Boston. Hard to find playing time. Joseph didn’t appear in an NBA game last year. He signed with a French team last November.
Michael Carter-Williams: Round 1, Pick 11, Philadelphia 76ers
Expectations: MCW had a stellar soph season for the ‘Cuse. His length, defensive prowess, and overall skill would translate well to the NBA.
Reality: So far, so good. It’s only been one season, but MCW was Rookie of the Year last season. Who cares if it was a bad rookie class and he played on a dreadful 76ers team? MCW’s play was a bright spot for Philly.
Prospects: Tyler Ennis, Jerami Grant, C.J. Fair
I saw Jerami Grant being compared to Kawhi Leonard recently. That may be a stretch, but Grant’s athleticism will translate well to the NBA. Tyler Ennis needs be able to finish at the basket, but his poise and floor vision is great. C.J. Fair may follow the path of Kris Joseph and not pan out in the NBA.
The past few SU draft picks haven’t really lived up to expectations. In fact, MCW has really been the saving grace. Hopefully Ennis and Grant can make SU fans proud for the second straight year.
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- Remembering my interview with Syracuse legend Dolph Schayes - December 11, 2015
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