With less than a week to go until the 2018-19 NBA season kicks off, there are seven former Syracuse basketball players that will be on NBA rosters. Some will be key rotation members, while others will be further down on the depth chart. Here’s what we should expect from these guys:
Carmelo Anthony (Houston): While Anthony is still the cream of the crop among former SU standouts, his star has lost some of its shine in the last year or two. After one year with Oklahoma City and being unhappy about his role coming off the bench at the end of last season, Melo forced his way out of OKC and onto Houston’s roster where…he’ll come off the bench. His 16.2 points per game last season were almost five points a game lower than his previous low. He’ll fill a sixth man role for Mike D’Antoni’s crew, which still has championship aspirations.
Michael Carter-Williams (Houston): Carter-Williams joins Melo in Houston on a one-year, minimum-salary contract. Carter-Williams will play some on the wing this year, but will also backup Chris Paul. Given Paul’s extensive injury history, MCW could vault himself into some playing time. But, Carter-Williams hasn’t been a double-digit scorer or a major factor in over two seasons.
Jerami Grant (Oklahoma City): Grant re-signed with Oklahoma City in the offseason for three years and $27 million. Now that Anthony is out of OKC, Grant has a straighter line to more playing time, sharing power forward duties with Patrick Patterson. Grant has been working on his 3-point range after shooting 29 percent from deep last season. Being able to step out and knock down a 3-pointer consistently, along with his athleticism, will make him an interesting option for Billy Donovan and the Thunder.
Wesley Johnson (LA Clippers): Johnson started 40 games for the Clippers last season. While he’s never been a double-digit scorer in any season of his NBA career, he is the kind of guy who can do a little bit of everything and plugs a hole for Doc Rivers. With the Clippers possibly rebuilding for a massive free agent attack next offseason, Johnson (in the final season of his contract) is playing for a new contract, be it with the Clippers or somebody else.
Tyler Lydon (Denver): Lydon played just one game (and two minutes) for the Nuggets last season. He is blocked in Denver’s frontcourt by the likes of Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic, Trey Lyles and Mason Plumlee. While talented, Lydon may not see the floor often again for a deep Nuggets looking to contend for a playoff spot out West.
Malachi Richardson (Toronto): After being traded from Sacramento to Toronto in February last season, Richardson saw just one game of action in a Raptors uniform. He played just five minutes. In two seasons, Richardson has averaged 3.5 points in 48 games. With a new coach in Nick Nurse, maybe Richardson gets a fresh start. But, with guys like Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, OG Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Norman Powell ahead of him in the rotation, Richardson may find himself on the bench a lot in the 2018-19 season.
Dion Waiters (Miami): Waiters underwent ankle surgery in January and still is battling his way back into playing shape. It doesn’t look like he’ll be ready for the season opener and, with $40 million left on his contract over the next three seasons, Miami has been trying to find a taker for his contract as the Heat try to acquire Jimmy Butler. Waiters has carved himself a role as a high-volume, low-percentage bench scorer over the last two seasons, averaging about 15 points a game in that span. It’s anybody’s guess right now as to when Waiters will make his season debut.