Former Syracuse guard Michael Gbinije, taken with the No. 49 pick overall by the Detroit Pistons, credited the Orange coaching staff for helping him transition into the NBA.
“[Syracuse’s] offense was a lot of pick-and-roll, and the NBA obviously does a lot of pick- and-roll,” Gbinije said after being drafted. “Just me being at the point guard position, just basically running pick-and-roll almost every other play, I think that fits the offense pretty well.”
Gbinije originally came to college as a wing player, but made the transition to point guard during his three years at Syracuse at the behest of Orange head coach Jim Boeheim.
“[Boeheim] basically turned me into a point guard,” Gbinije said. “They did a good job of developing me when I was there and just helping me grow off the court, as well.”
Gbinije described his evening as anxiety filled as he watched other names fly off the board, including his former teammate, Malachi Richardson. Richardson was taken with the No. 22 pick by the Charlotte Hornets and then traded to the Sacramento Kings.
One of the reasons why Richardson was drafted higher was because of his potential. Richardson was a rising sophomore, while Gbinije, 24, was a fifth-year senior.
“I mean, there’s pros to being 24. You know, you learn more. You know more going into it, battle tested, had to deal with adversity throughout my whole college career,” Gbinije said. “Obviously you know it’s a young man’s draft, but I’m just looking forward to using my wisdom and experience.”
It is always difficult for second round picks to make NBA rosters because there is no guaranteed contracts after the first round. But Gbinije remained confident that there was a place for him at the next level.
“I’ve got to hang my hat on defense,” Gbinije said. “That’s probably going to be my role, if I do play, obviously. Just try to take care of the ball as best as possible, and if I’m open, hit a shot.”