Tyler Lydon is now a former Syracuse Orange basketball player. This much we know. We assume he will be an NBA player (destination unknown) in just a couple short months.
It was my opinion a month ago that Lydon would be better served staying for his junior season and improving his draft stock, and presumably, his chances of having staying power at the next level. Apparently, Lydon didn’t care much for my thoughts. Eh…he isn’t the first…
Syracuse’s final month of the season (and Lydon’s play in that stretch) didn’t do much to enthrall NBA scouts and draft prognosticators. DraftExpress dropped him from 17th to 23rd in their 2017 mock draft. And, while nbadraft.net now includes him in this year’s upcoming draft, they have him going 23rd as well. Meanwhile, ESPN.com’s Chad Ford has dropped Lydon out of the first round in his mock draft.
The fear that he will become just another forgotten name in the NBA landscape is what moves me to say he should have stayed.
Sure, that Carmelo fella has carved out a nice little piece of land in the NBA hierarchy. And who could really blame the likes of Dion Waiters, Wesley Johnson and Jonny Flynn for jumping to the pros when they were each selected with one of the early picks in the draft.
But overall, it’s been a lackluster litter of former Syracuse stars:
|Player||Drafted (Year)||Seasons||Career PPG||Career Earnings||Note|
|Malachi Richardson||22nd (2016)||1st||3.6||$1.4M||9.0 MPG this season|
|Chris McCullough||29th (2015)||2nd||3.8||$2.3M||11.2 MPG in career|
|Tyler Ennis||18th (2014)||3rd||4||$5.0M||4 teams in 3 seasons|
|Jerami Grant||39th (2014)||3rd||7.2||$2.7M||3.4 RPG in career|
|Michael Carter-Williams||11th (2013)||4th||13.1||$10.0M||2013-14 Rookie of the Year|
|Dion Waiters||4th (2012)||5th||13.2||$19.7M||15.8 PPG w/ MIA this season|
|Fab Melo||22nd (2012)||1||1.2||$3.8M||36 mins in NBA career|
|Wesley Johnson||4th (2010)||7th||7.5||$20.6M||33.8% 3pt in career|
|Jonny Flynn||6th (2009)||3||9.2||$9.5M||13.5 PPG in rookie season|
|Donte Greene||28th (2008)||4||6.1||$5.1M||30.4% 3pt in career|
Waiters and Carter-Williams are the only ones to achieve any real sort of statistical success and both, by in large, have had mercurial NBA careers. Everyone else has sputtered, faltered or fizzled out. In each case, it could be argued that an extra year on the SU hill under the tutelage of Jim Boeheim and company would have provided the players with an extra skill or polish to have more sustainable careers.
It feels as if Lydon is following the same path. If predictions are correct and he’s a late first-round pick, he’ll be on a contending team that is competing for a playoff spot. Those teams are less likely to give rookies significant playing time, stunting their development. If that’s the case, Lydon is staring in the face of riding the pine or being sent down to the D-League in his first season as a pro.
He’s a better player than that. So were a lot of the guys on the previous list. But the NBA isn’t a league for half-finished projects.
There seems to be some of Lydon’s career at Syracuse that goes unwritten. Hopefully, that doesn’t mean his NBA career gets lost in the shuffle along with so many bright stars of recent Syracuse teams.