The NBA season really starts to kick into gear once Christmas Day hits and the NFL’s regular season starts to wind down. As the NBA surges closer to the halfway point of the season, it’s time to take the pulse of the former Syracuse players and how they’re progressing in the NBA.
Carmelo Anthony. The last time we checked in on Anthony, he was picking up the scoring slack while LeBron James was on the shelf.
Now that James has returned, Anthony has seen less opportunities to score. He has not had a 20-point scoring effort in over a month, since he has 29 points in an overtime win against Charlotte back on Nov. 8. Anthony’s scoring average is down to 13.4 points per game in 27.6 minutes per game, right in line with his numbers last season in Portland.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers have underperformed to the tune of a 16-13 record, good for just sixth in the Western Conference and there are rumors they may even be dangling Russell Westbrook in trade talks less than 30 games into his first season as a Laker.
Oshae Brissett. Brissett played in just half of Indiana’s 16 games thus far. But, in the last 14 games, Brissett has played in 11 of them as Indiana seemingly is already moving onto next season. According to many publications, the Pacers announced that several of their key players (Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner, Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert are all available in trade as new head coach Rick Carlisle looks to reshape the roster.
As a result, in seven December games, Brissett is averaging 23 minutes per game, while posting nearly eight points and almost five rebounds per night. True to form, Brissett played 20 minutes on Thursday as the Pacers beat the Pistons 122-113, and Brissett finished with nine points and four rebounds.
With the increased playing time, he’s shooting 50 percent from the floor and 43 percent from beyond the arc. Small sample size, yes, but Brissett is once again showing that, with opportunities, he can contribute for an NBA team.
Michael Carter-Williams. Carter-Williams has still yet to see the floor for Orlando this season. as he still recovers from offseason ankle surgery.
However, the Detroit Pistons are the only team that have less than Orlando’s five wins on the season. So, as the Magic try to develop their young players and figure out who they can build around, it doesn’t seem like Carter-Williams will have a large role if/when he returns to the court.
Jerami Grant. On Dec. 10, Grant suffered torn ligaments in his thumb, which will likely cost him about six weeks of action.
Prior to the injury, Grant had upped his scoring average over two points per contest over the past month. However, the Pistons have lost 12 consecutive games and currently own the worst record in the league.
That has sparked the Grant trade rumors again, with reports that a couple of teams (including the Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers) are interested. With the likelihood that Detroit tries to build around No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham (who has averaged 22 points per game through five December games), this trade deadline may be the time for the Pistons to turn Grant (a veteran on a team going nowhere) into a couple young assets for the future.
Elijah Hughes. Hughes continues to be an afterthought on Jazz coach Quin Snyder’s bench. As Utah has improved to 19-7 (third in the Western Conference), Hughes has yet to appear in any games this month. He still has only attempted two shots on the season, scoring two points from the foul line.
Hughes seems destined to be stuck on the bench unless the injury bug hits the Jazz.