Syracuse basketball is on a roll this week.
First, the Orange topped Louisville on Wednesday night at the Carrier Dome, collecting their first win in five tries against a ranked foe this season. It was the marquee win thus far in an otherwise lost season.
Then on Thursday, some Syracuse alumni packed their bags for what they hope will be greener pastures at the NBA Trade Deadline.
In a three-team trade, former Syracuse point guards Michael Carter-Williams and Tyler Ennis both wound up in Milwaukee with the Bucks. Carter-Williams makes his way to Wisconsin by way of The City of Brotherly Love and Ennis, toiling back and forth between the desert and the D-League during his rookie season, was traded from the Phoenix Suns.
Reunited and it feels… so… good… well, kinda.
Carter-Williams and Ennis never played together at Syracuse, as the latter filled the shoes (quite admirably, in fact) of the former after he bolted following his sophomore season.
But, what should make them feel good is the fact their new coach, Jason Kidd, has an affinity for point guards as a former one himself. Not only that, but he knows how to get the most out of his floor generals. That situation should be a safe haven as both point guards continue to grow.
Neither MCW nor Ennis were in ideal situations with their prior teams.
Despite being the NBA Rookie of the Year last season, Carter-Williams never seemed to be truly appreciated in Philadelphia. Folks in Philly seemed to look at the things he was not as proficient at (long-range shooting and being turnover-prone) rather than pointing out his strengths (size, passing ability, the potential to go for a triple-double on any night). With a coach that is one of three NBA players to amass over 100 triple-doubles, you best believe Kidd will appreciate the things Carter-Williams can bring to the table.
Meanwhile, Ennis declared for the draft last season hoping to land in the back end of the lottery and get some meaningful minutes in his first year. Instead, he fell to No. 18 in the draft to Phoenix, who already had two point guards on the roster in Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, then later added Isaiah Thomas in the offseason. Three bonafide point guards for the Suns meant an already-crowded backcourt and Ennis was destined to ride the pine and/or play in the D-League.
That logjam was rectified Thursday as Phoenix sent Dragic to Miami, Thomas to Boston and took on Kidd’s most recent pupil, Brandon Knight.
Which brings us back to Kidd…
As a first-year coach last season, he led a Brooklyn Nets squad to the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and a first-round upset of the Toronto Raptors. This year, he inherited a Bucks squad that had the worst record in the NBA last season and currently has them sitting in that same sixth seed his Nets were in a season ago. Say what you will about his exit from Brooklyn or the way he goes about his business… the man can coach and his players respond to him.
So, the advice for both Carter-Williams and Ennis is simple: Embrace your new situation. You’re both on a team that will be in the playoffs.
Follow your coach around like little puppy dogs and soak up whatever knowledge he imparts on you. He performed your job better than most everyone else in NBA history has.
It’s been a good couple of days for Syracuse basketball, both at the collegiate level and in the pros. It has been a welcome sight as we continue through the winter doldrums.