Beginning with Carmelo Anthony being selected as the third overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, The Syracuse Orange basketball team has had 12 first-round picks in the last 16 years. Five of those selections (including Anthony) were lottery picks. The post-Carmelo era in Syracuse was producing high-level talent with which NBA teams were enamored. But, the last two drafts have come and gone without a single Syracuse player being selected.
And the NBA staying power of former Syracuse players has dropped off drastically in recent years. While several players have continued their careers overseas, few have remained in the United States.
If you played basketball at Syracuse and your first name is some version of “Ty,” there is a good chance you are playing somewhere in the G League. Tyus Battle (Minnesota), Tyler Ennis (Toronto) and Tyler Roberson (LA Clippers) all are on G League rosters, with Battle being on an Exhibit 10 contract with the Timberwolves.
Oshae Brissett joins Ennis with the Raptors 905 team and is on a two-way contract, meaning he’ll likely make it up to the NBA at some point this season. The third former Syracuse player (on a technicality) that is on a two-way contract is B.J. Johnson, who is on Orlando’s G League roster. Johnson played two seasons at Syracuse, totaling 118 points, before transferring to LaSalle for his final two years. And Andrew White is the last of the six former Syracuse players who are rostered in the G League, one step away from the NBA.
That means that, at the moment, just three former Syracuse players are on NBA rosters.
One (Dion Waiters) is on the roster in name only, as the Miami Heat have told him he is out of shape and has an attitude problem (and also this issue). He has yet to step on the floor this season.
The former Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams, looked like he was soon going to be out of a job, but he seems to have found a role on the Orlando Magic this season. Through the first seven games, Carter-Williams had logged just 50 minutes and scored only 10 points.
But, in the last two games, as Orlando fights through injuries and struggles to find a backcourt rotation that works, Carter-Williams has logged 20+ minutes in each game, tallying 19 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks.
And, the former Syracuse player currently enjoying the most success right now is 2014 second-round pick, Jerami Grant. Traded to Denver in the offseason, Grant is getting nearly 23 minutes on a deep Nuggets squad, averaging over eight points per game.
Which brings us to Carmelo Anthony. Ah yes, Melo.
Far more decorated than all of the aforementioned players combined, Anthony, at 35 years old, was last seen sitting courtside at Syracuse’s first game of the season versus Virginia instead of on the sidelines for an NBA team. And even more so than the questionable wardrobe decisions he made for Wednesday’s game, it’s fair to wonder why he is not still playing.
According to him, he “2000 percent” still wants to play. And countless teams (most notably, the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers) seems to have some level of interest in him…as a role player. The hard part: Anthony still doesn’t see himself as a role player. He didn’t in Oklahoma City or in Houston.
His acceptance (or lack thereof) of that is still what keeps him out of the league and away from the chance at winning an NBA championship. His hubris is what keeps Syracuse fans from seeing one of the most influential players in school history enjoying success in the NBA.
And, unfortunately for those fans, there’s not a whole lot more entertainment on display from the guys who used to don Syracuse orange.