Dion’s Rise and the Syracuse Celtics

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) /

Dion getting welcomed to the NBA by Mr. Stern – Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIREWell that was fun! I’m a huge fan of the NBA draft every year, and it usually doesn’t disappoint (especially when three Syracuse guys are getting drafted). In a move that I think none of us truly saw coming until Wednesday at the earliest, the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled the trigger on our guy Dion with the fourth pick in the draft. In what was almost a bigger story, the Boston Celtics decided to inject some Syracuse Orange into their rotation by drafting Fab Melo at number 22 and Kris Joseph at 51.

The big question now: how do each of these guys fit on their new teams? Let’s try to answer that.

Dion Waiters – 4th Overall – Cleveland Cavaliers

"“He was in the game when the game was on the line. He wanted the ball in his hands, and he cherishes the moment … we thought it was a no-brainer.”"

That was a quote this morning from Cavs Head Coach Byron Scott, who was interviewed on The Herd with Colin Cowherd (by none other than Doug Gottlieb filling in) about drafting Waiters so high. Many Cavs fans here were less than pleased with the selection, instead hoping for a shooter like Bradley Beal (3rd pick) or Harrison Barnes (7th pick) to pair with point guard Kyrie Irving. I see their thought process here, but I actually like teaming these two guys up.

Waiters can be a dynamic scorer in the league. While Iriving is also apt at getting to the hoop, he is a great shooter himself, leaving a spot for a slasher like Dion to get to the rim. While he isn’t a dead-eye marksman just yet, Dion’s jumper is still very much improving. Throw in the fact that he’s reportedly close with Kyrie, and I think this is a great spot for him to land.

It’s kind of remarkable Dion went top five considering he ended his Syracuse career in March figuring to be a mid to late first-rounder, but that’s a testament to how impressed teams were with him after watching his workout and studying film. As said by one of the analysts in last night’s broadcast, he is the first player selected in the top five that didn’t start a game that season since Marvin Williams at North Carolina. I think I speak for all Syracuse fans in saying please Dion, PLEASE DON’T BE MARVIN WILLIAMS! We really don’t need anymore crap for the Jonny Flynn/Wes Johnson top ten picks, so another Syracuse guy flopping would do no good.

Fab Melo – 22nd overall – Boston Celtics

We will never know what could have been if Fab was on the court for Syracuse’s Elite 8 loss to Ohio State, so it’s only fitting he begins his NBA career in Boston (where Syracuse lost) with Jared Sullinger (the guy on OSU that Fab was supposed to stop). Bygones being bygones (I guess), I’m happy for Fab getting to the NBA. This guy started playing basketball five or six years ago, and barely speaks English, so I really can’t hate on him for realizing his dream of making the league. C’mon, the thought of him being a first round draft pick after his Freshman season was literally so ludicrous you would have gotten angry if someone brought it up to you, like a creul joke. So give him soem props for making such a gigantic improvement in one season.

How does he fit in Boston though?  The Celtics played much of last season without a true center, as both Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O’Neal went down with injuries. Kevin Garnett manned the center spot for much of the season as a result, and he will be back next season. And yes, he’s coming back, let’s not pretend he isn’t. While they will probably re-sign Wilcox and still have Greg Stiemsma (hehe), I can see Fab coming off the bench for five to ten minutes per game.

While I’ve heard that Boston radio yesterday was vehemently against drafting Fab, I love the fact that he’ll be learning to play defense taught by Kevin Garnett. KG is one of the best defenders of the last 15 years, and with Fab’s physical tools, he could really become an effective shotblocker. His offense is a total work in progress, but his big body will be serviceable next season. Especially against Miami and if Dwight Howard ends up going to the Nets.

Kris Joseph – 51st pick – Boston Celtics

Kris made it two Orange for Boston, and I also don’t mind this spot for him. He could have certainly gone to some teams (Orlando, NEW YORK!!) that are more in need of wing players, but I think he actually has a shot at making the Celtics. Yes, you read that correctly, Kris making the team in Boston isn’t a sure thing just yet. However, the impending decision of Ray Allen to (most likely) leave won’t hurt his chances.

Many feel Kris could have actually had a similar path that Dion just took, meaning a couple of great years for the Orange and then an early exit for the NBA. After his sophomore season in which he was also the 6th man, a lot of scouts pegged him as a lottery pick. After returning to school for two more solid but not spectacular season, Kris saw his stock free fall. What remains to be seen is if he has the defensive capabilities to succeed in the NBA after playing four years of zone. While I think his athleticism has slipped over the past two years due to injury, he could be a boost at the end of quarters when subbing in for Paul Pierce or Avery Bradley.

Let’s hope Kris has a great summer league in order to solidify his spot on the Celtics. For that matter, let’s hope that all of the Syracuse guys (get well soon Scoop!) have positive summers that only strengthen their futures to prosper in the NBA. Go Orange!