While the experience of being there in person was fantastic, I’d rather not talk about Syracuse’s performance on the floor this past Saturday at Duke. So, instead, let’s check in with the former Syracuse players in the NBA as the league nears the trade deadline in February:
Carmelo Anthony. The Los Angeles Lakers stand at the definition of mediocrity in late January, 24-24 on the season and eighth in the Western Conference standings. But, Anthony continues to fill his role well, one of the few Lakers who seem to be doing that these days.
Anthony’s minutes are lower in January (23.9 per game) than any other month this season. However, his points per game this month (13.4) is more than any month other than a small sample size of seven games in October.
Anthony has reached double figures in six of the eight games so far in January, including four straight. For the season, he’s averaging 13.4 points per game, the exact number he finished with in two of the last three seasons.
Oshae Brissett. The Indiana Pacers are a mess right now. Perhaps one of the more disappointing teams in the NBA in Rick Carlisle’s first season back with the club, the Pacers have signaled that they are open to moving just about all their best players. Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, Caris LeVert and perhaps Malcolm Brogdon have all been mentioned in trade rumors.
While that is bad news for the team, in general, the subpar performances and the injury bug have led to increased opportunities for guys like Brissett.
After not playing in eight of the first 16 games this season, he has played in 30 of the last 32. He did not even log double-digit minutes in any December game. But, since then he averaged 23.5 minutes per game in December and 21.8 minutes in 13 January games.
While his 6.8 points per game in January has not been as robust as his 8.7 points per game average in December, Brissett (who is actually earning about $500,000 more this season than Anthony is earning for the Lakers) is still proving he can hang with the crowd when given the time.
Michael Carter-Williams. Carter-Williams has still yet to see the floor for Orlando this season. as he recovers from offseason ankle surgery.
With both Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs back healthy, Carter-Williams (who is still without a timetable to return) will most likely be there only for moral support once his ankle is good to go.
Jerami Grant. Grant’s impending return could happen any day now. After having surgery on his thumb, he has already been assigned to (and now recalled from) Detroit’s G-League affiliate.
And, once he returns to the floor, you can bet there will be the eyes of several other NBA general managers watching his every move to decide if they should try and swing a trade for him before the Feb. 10 deadline.
Grant is now being billed as perhaps the grand prize of the trade deadline frenzy, capable of shaping the chase for a title for several contenders. Teams like Chicago, Utah or the Lakers could end up taking the plunge to try and bring Grant in as the missing piece.
With an 11-36 record, the Pistons are going nowhere this season. However, they have found a lead option in No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham (who is averaging nearly 18 points per game for the last two months) and could use as many draft picks and/or young, controllable players to rebuild the roster.
It’s looking more and more like Grant will not be in Motown much longer.
Elijah Hughes. Hughes has played in just 11 games this season for the Jazz. On Jan. 7 against Toronto, Hughes was inserted into the starting lineup for a team ravaged by injuries and health and safety protocols. It yielded this stat line for the former Syracuse wing:
- 41 minutes
- 26 points
- 9-15 FG
- 7-12 3pt
- 8 rebounds
- 4 assists
- 2 steals
In the other 10 games he’s played in this season combined, here are his totals:
- 34 minutes
- 10 points
- 3-9 FG
- 2-6 3pt
- 3 rebounds
- 1 assist
- 1 steal
I’ll wait while you try to find a larger discrepancy between a player’s best game and all his other games combined…
Somewhat like Brissett, Hughes is an example of how talented players are. Sometimes, it’s just about finding the right opportunity and taking advantage of it when it comes.