The NBA season is through its first month, giving us enough time to take the temperature of the former Syracuse players in the league.
Who has started out hot? Who has come out cold? And who just hasn’t seen the floor very much?
Carmelo Anthony. Carmelo Anthony was expected to provide scoring punch off the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers. But, with LeBron James sidelined since early November with an abdominal injury, Anthony has been asked to shoulder even more of the scoring load. And he has responded.
Anthony’s scoring average is up to 15.5 points per game in 28.5 minutes per game, including five games of 20 points or more, after Wednesday’s action. Comparatively, he averaged 15.4 points per game off the bench for Portland last season…in 32.5 minutes per game.
So, while the Lakers have been a mess early this season, don’t fault Carmelo Anthony. He’s off to a solid start with his increased responsibility.
Oshae Brissett. The question entering this season for Brissett was whether or not the role he enjoyed at the end of last season (10.9 points per game, 24.7 minutes per game in 21 games) after the Pacers changed coaches from Nate Bjorkgren to Rick Carlisle.
The answer? No. Nope. Nein.
Brissett has played in just half of Indiana’s 16 games thus far. On the season, he’s averaging just 3.9 points in 12.8 minutes. Per 40 minutes, Brissett is scoring more than five points less than he did last season.
Despite TJ Warren still not having returned to action following a stress fracture in his foot last season, Caris LeVert has returned and rookie Chris Duarte (14.3 points, 4.4 rebounds) has had a great start to his career.
Brissett has not found the same success he enjoyed last season. At the moment, he’s buried on the depth chart…and that’s before Warren even returns to the lineup.
Michael Carter-Williams. We knew Carter-Williams would miss the beginning of the season after offseason ankle surgery. To this point, he has not seen any game action.
Meanwhile, Orlando’s young guards have hit the ground running this season. Second-year guard Cole Anthony is averaging over 20 points a game (including two 30-point games in November), just barely missing being in the Top 25 in the league. Rookie Jalen Suggs’ stats don’t jump off the page. But, with 11 points, more than three rebounds and more than three assists per game, he’s providing a little bit of everything so far.
After Wednesday’s win over New York, Orlando still is only 4-11 on the season, worst in the East. The focus for the Magic is developing their young talent. So, even when Carter-Williams gets healthy, he will not see a large role on the court.
Jerami Grant. While Grant hasn’t repeated his 2020-2021 scoring average of 22.3 points, he has still led Detroit in scoring at 17.9 per game. He’s not alone, as scoring is down across the league after offseason rule changes have led to less shooting fouls being called. He has maintained his rebounding and assist averages from last season.
Even more, Grant has said he enjoys his current role as team leader and No. 1 option on a young, rebuilding team. Youngsters Saddie Bey (14.0 points per game) and No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham (15.1 points per game in eight games) are following suit.
But, at 4-10, Pistons general manager will have an interesting decision to make: sell high on Grant and add multiple assets to the rebuild or keep Grant and allow him to continue to develop in his role?
Grant’s name will be one of the most popular leading up to this season’s trade deadline. But, Weaver and Grant are said to have a good relationship, which may make it harder for a contender to pry Grant loose from the Motor City.
Elijah Hughes. Hughes is what we thought he was in the offseason. Utah is a Top 6 team in the Western Conference thus far this season, with a 9-5 record, and Hughes is one of the guys at the end of the Jazz bench without much of a role.
Last season, he averaged just 3.6 minutes per game in 18 games. This season? He has played in just four of 14 games, attempting just two shots from the field (missing both), while grabbing one rebound and committing one foul. His only two points this season have come in his two free throw attempts.
Hughes has had a consistent role in his season-plus career with the Utah Jazz. Unfortunately, that role is just not one that has led to much time on the floor