Greene was probably somewhat disappointed as he did not end up being a lottery selection, as was originally projected by many back mid season. Yet, being a first round pick is going to put some nice change in his pocket, so I don’t think he will be too disappointed.
Greene is the 15th former Orangemen to be selected in the 1st round of the NBA draft, the 51st Orangemen ever drafted, and the first Orangeman drafted in the first round since Hakim Warrick was the 19th pick in 2005 by the same Memphis Grizzlies. With the assumption that Greene does make the NBA roster and play next year for Houston (or any other NBA team), he will be the 36th former Syracuse player to play in the NBA.
The first were Bob Shaddock and Lew Spicer in 1947; Shaddock would play a mere two games with the Syracuse Nationals, and Spicer four with the Providence Steamrollers. The first Syracuse player to be a regular in the NBA was Bullet Billy Gabor in 1949. Gabor would make an impact in the NBA being named to the all rookie team his first season, make the NBA All-Star team in 1953, and win the NBA Championship with the Nationals in 1955.
The greatest Syracuse player in NBA history is Hall of Famer Dave Bing, who was the 2nd overall pick in the 1966 draft by the Detroit Pistons. Bing would score 18,327 points in his 12 year NBA career, averaging 20.3 ppg and 6.0 assists per game, and play in seven NBA All-Star games.
Danny Schayes played more games than any former Orangemen in NBA history with 1,138 games over 18 seasons. Schayes started for a few seasons, but really found a solid role as a reserve center, with his ability to play smart basketball, make the free throws and jump shots, and grab rebounds as needed.
Derrick Coleman is the only Orangemen drafted number 1 overall in the NBA draft, going to the New Jersey Nets in 1990. Now Coleman was a bust as a number one pick; he never reached the stardom predicted for him, and he had the talent and ability to be a great NBA player. That is not to say Coleman was a bust in the NBA. He did have a solid fifteen year career, averaging 16.5 ppg and 9.3 rebounds a game. Those aren’t bad numbers, and he was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in 1991, and on the All-Star team in 1994. They’re just not the numbers expected from the number one overall pick.
Other Orangemen have gone on to productive NBA careers. Sherman Douglas played 12 years, averaging 11.0 ppg and 5.9 assists per game, showing that he could master the alley-oop pass in the professional leagues as well as he did at college.
Louis Orr played 8 seasons averaging 9.8 ppg, Billy Owens played 11 seasons averaging 11.7 ppg, though injuries hounded him throughout his career. Rony Seikaly played a solid eleven seasons scoring 14.7 ppg, along with 9.5 rebounds a game. And John Wallace played 7 seasons, averaging 7.6 ppg.
Greene is going to join 6 current Orangemen who are in the NBA (or at least on the fringes of it). Carmelo Anthony is starring out in Denver, and barring injury, will easily be Syracuse’s second best NBA player ever, and possibly even the best (time will tell).
Jason Hart is going into his eighth season, now with the Utah Jazz. Etan Thomas as been a solid player for the Washington Wizards, and should be back from his injury this year. Hakim Warrick almost had Greene as a teammate down in Memphis; instead Warrick will need to battle a slew of new players brought in by draft day trades. Darryl Watkins and Demetris Nichols are both struggling to stay on NBA teams; Watkins played nine games last season, and Nichols played 14.
It will be interesting to see how Donte' Greene’s ends up. He is clearly not ready today, and NBA scouts took note as his stoke dropped as draft day approached and his workouts were not as impressive as other players. A few months ago I suggested that going professional was perhaps not a bad idea for Greene, since he risked having his stock plummet with another season at Syracuse if he did not learn to rebound or play defense. Considering that his stock dropped anyhow, I would have to recant that, and say that Greene would definitely have been better off staying at Syracuse one more year, and improved his overall draft position.
Donte', thank you for your time at Syracuse, and good luck in the NBA.