The NBA draft is just days away, and a few former Syracuse basketball players have their hats in the ring and will anxiously await their names being called.
Tyler Ennis, Jerami Grant and C.J. Fair will all be trying to get a job Thursday night, and Ennis will even be in the building at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. NBA officials must expect Ennis to go fairly high in the draft if they sent him an invite to the event.
But we don't know for sure where any of the former Orange stars will end up. In fact, we don't even know how the draft order will shake out with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony's free agency and teams' potential pursuit of the two stars muddying the process. Throw in all the Kevin Love trade talk, and the draft order could look very different come Thursday.
So all we can do is wait to see where the Syracuse players land. Oh, and we can look at the countless number of mock drafts floating all over the Internet.
As usual with the interweb, not all of the information is totally reliable. But there are some experts out there who get paid to do this sort of thing. So, let's take a look at where some of the experts expect the Syracuse players to go. For no extra charge, I'll throw in a quick look at what I think is the best fit for each player in The Association.
We'll start with Ennis, whom draftniks universally expect to be the first Syracuse player taken in the draft. The 6'2" Canadian point guard is projected to go anywhere from the middle of the lottery to the end of the first round.
Chad Ford, ESPN's NBA equivalent to Mel Kiper, has Ennis going back to his homeland, landing with the Toronto Raptors with the 20th pick (h/t Brent Axe at Syracuse.com). NBADraft.net has Ennis going a bit later, making his way to the Houston Rockets with the 25th pick. Finally, Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman has Ennis in the lottery, going to the Orlando Magic at 12th overall.
Even though it would be tough to watch Ennis sit in the green room as he slides down the board, going later in the draft could ultimately be a blessing for him. He would be a perfect fit in Houston at No. 25 or Miami at No. 26. Both teams have ball-dominating players but no solid option at the point to spread the ball around and get everyone good shots.
Considering the Linsanity experiment isn't working in Houston and Mario Chalmers laid an egg in the NBA Finals, Ennis would provide an upgrade to either squad. If he goes earlier, Ennis would be a solid fit in Orlando; Ennis could run the offense and not get exposed on defense, as Victor Oladipo would be able to check opposing point guards that could give Ennis trouble.
Next up is Grant, who is one of the most athletic players in the draft pool not named Andrew Wiggins or Aaron Gordon, but whose raw offensive game is keeping him from being a lottery pick.
Ford (again thanks to Axe) has Grant going 40th to Minnesota, which is what Ford describes as a "major fall" for Grant. NBADraft.net predicts Grant will go to the Los Angeles Clippers with the 28th pick. And like Ford, Wasserman has Grant falling out of the first round, going 36th to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Maybe it's just a product of watching just about every collegiate minute Grant played, but I don't see how Grant falls to the second round. Sure, he has a limited offensive game, but if he finds himself in the right situation, he won't have to score right away. Besides, you can teach a guy to score, you can't teach him how to jump out of the gym.
Because of that, Grant would fit very well with either the Clips at No. 28 or the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 29. Both are teams that like to get up and down the floor, which is the perfect way to maximize Grant's skill set. Both teams also have established scorers, reducing the pressure for Grant to increase his repertoire right away.
Grant has also received high praise from at least one expert. ESPN's David Thorpe wrote a piece (subscription required) wondering if Grant could be the next Kawhi Leonard. Yes, that Kawhi Leonard, the reigning 22-year-old NBA Finals MVP.
Thorpe mentions the lesson other teams could learn from the San Antonio Spurs, that of the importance of player development. If Grant gets to a team with a strong coaching staff, like the Clippers, he can be molded into a valuable piece on a playoff contender.
Lastly we get to Fair, whose draft prospects are less certain than those of his former teammates. Fair, who led the Orange in scoring for two years in a row, is seen as a second-round pick at best by all of the experts around the web.
Fair, however, told Syracuse.com's Mike Waters that he is "confident" he will get drafted. Waters said Fair has worked out for 15 teams leading up to the draft, which Fair hopes will give him the best opportunity to showcase his skills.
Per Waters, Ford has Fair going 46th overall to the Washington Wizards. Ford, via Waters, said Fair "has been strong in workouts and has helped his stock tremendously."
NBADraft.net has Fair going a few picks later in the second round, heading to Dallas with the 51st pick. Wasserman isn't as high on Fair, and he doesn't have the Syracuse forward being drafted at all.
The best fit for Fair? Easily the San Antonio Spurs. The champs are like Syracuse in that you have to buy into a system and work hard to fill a role. Fair worked his way up from rotation player to The Guy for the Orange, showing his commitment to the system and his willingness to put in the necessary work to succeed.
Fair could do the same with the Spurs, who could use his smooth mid-range shot on their second unit as he develops the rest of his game. The Spurs have two of the last three picks in the draft, and they could use either one to bring in Fair if he is still on the board.
Considering the similarities between how Jim Boeheim and Gregg Popovich run their teams, Fair would fit in the Alamo like a glove.