Buddy Boeheim saves a long-standing NBA streak at Syracuse

Boeheim Georgetown
Dec. 14, 2019; Washington, D.C., USA; Syracuse Orange guard Buddy Boeheim looks to pass during an 89-79 loss to the Georgetown Hoyas at the Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Saugat Sen, The Juice Online.

On Friday night, ex-Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim made his NBA debut with the Detroit Pistons.

In a blink-and-you-missed it kind of appearance, Buddy Boeheim appeared in the final minute of a 130-106 blowout at the hands of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. It was a club trillion moment, as he didn’t record a single stat in the time he was on the floor.

But Buddy Boeheim’s brief appearance saved an impressive streak for his father, Jim Boeheim.

As I’ve written about before, Jim Boeheim has had NBA talent on each of his Syracuse rosters since he took over as head coach of the program in 1976, starting with Louis Orr. But as recruiting restrictions took hold from SU’s 2015 sanctions, the cupboard went a bit thin and the Orange swung and missed on several recruits that went on to play in the NBA.

That put Jim Boeheim’s streak in serious jeopardy.

But now that Buddy Boeheim has officially logged an NBA appearance, Jim Boeheim can now continue to say that he’s never not had an NBA player on one of his rosters. That’s represented in the below chart:

(***Note: I did not include every single player who has played in the NBA under Boeheim. This chart is just to illustrate the unbroken chain of NBA talent that Boeheim has coached while at SU.)

Player SU Tenure
Louis Orr 1976 – 1980
Leo Rautins 1980 – 1983
Pearl Washington 1983 – 1986
Derrick Coleman 1986 – 1990
Billy Owens 1988 – 1991
Lawrence Moten 1991 – 1995
John Wallace 1992 – 1996
Jason Hart 1996 – 2000
Damone Brown 1997 – 2001
Hakim Warrick 2001 – 2005
Arinze Onuaku 2005 – 2010
Dion Waiters 2010 – 2012
Rakeem Christmas 2011 – 2015
Tyler Lydon 2015 – 2017
Oshae Brissett 2017 – 2019
Buddy Boeheim 2018 – 2022

» Related: Syracuse’s Edwards, Girard named to the TJO All-ACC Preseason Team

What’s somewhat notable is that NBA talent doesn’t necessarily translate into wins. For instance, the improbable 1996 Final Four team featured only one NBA player on its roster (John Wallace). Meanwhile, Jim Boeheim logged his first losing season in his tenure with two NBA players on his roster.

Aside from Buddy Boeheim, Syracuse also had Cole Swider in the 2021-22 season, and he also made his first appearance in the NBA last week in a 123-109 loss to the Golden State Warriors. In that game, Swider played for two minutes in his NBA debut, grabbing a rebound and dishing out an assist.

As a side note, the 2020-21 team may go down as one of the least talented teams under Jim Boeheim. While Buddy Boeheim did save the streak with this roster, it’s unclear if there’s another NBA player among the group. The other potentials in this group are Jesse Edwards (more on him below) and Kadary Richmond, now with Seton Hall. (Side note to my side note: We have an Alan Griffin sighting, as he was recently drafted by the Long Island Nets in the G League Draft.)

There’s been plenty of speculation as to when Jim Boeheim will wrap up his illustrious coaching career. If he decides to retire at the end of this season, I’d say he has a fairly good chance of keeping his streak alive with several different possible paths:

  • I fully expect Edwards to blossom into an All-ACC center this season. He averaged 12.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 2.8 bpg before breaking his hand and missing the last few games of 2022. I could easily see him upping all of those averages and putting himself on the NBA radar.
  • Benny Williams is a former 5-star recruit who will have a chance to show his improvement this season. Now that Swider and Jimmy Boeheim are no longer on the roster, Williams is actually the most tenured scholarship wing SU has, and will have every opportunity to soak up minutes and put his dynamic athleticism on display.
  • Syracuse has several promising freshmen on its roster. The most obvious one of the group to have legitimate NBA aspirations is combo guard Judah Mintz, who was ranked 33rd in the ESPN Top 100. He’ll likely take over as the team’s starting point guard. But don’t count Chris Bunch or Justin Taylor as potential NBA prospects, either. Another sleeper in the group is Quadir Copeland, a 6-foot-6 point guard.

Should this truly be Jim Boeheim’s final year, any of these current SU players making it to the NBA would extend what has been a remarkable and exceptional streak.

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]sujuiceonline.com.