Friday, June 25, 2010

Johnson and Rautins Taken in the 2010 NBA Draft

Congratulations to Wes Johnson and Andy Rautins, both who were chosen in the NBA Draft last evening. Johnson was the #4 overall pick, taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He will be joining former Syracuse player Jonny Flynn, taken with the sixth overall pick last year. Rautins was taken in the second round with the 38th pick overall. His father Leo was the 17th pick in the 1st round of the 1983 draft, taken by the Philadelphia 76’ers. Johnson and Rautins are the 53rd and 54th Syracuse players ever drafted.

Johnson is the highest Syracuse draft pick since Carmelo Anthony was taken with the 3rd overall pick in the 2003 draft. He joins an elite group of Syracuse players taken with one of the top 4 picks of the draft; the other four were Anthony (3rd, 2003), Dave Bing (2nd, 1966), Derrick Coleman (1st, 1990) and Billy Owens (3rd, 1991).

Rautins and Johnson are the first Syracuse duo drafted in the same year since Etan Thomas (12th pick) and Jason Hart (49th pick) were both taken in 2000. It is the highest two players have been taken out of Syracuse, since 1991 when Owens was taken #3 and LeRon Ellis taken at #22. Syracuse last had three players in a draft was in 1986, when the draft went more than two rounds. Pearl Washington was #13 (1st round), Raf Addison #39 (2nd round) and Wendell Alexis (#59, 3rd round).

Three is top number of players ever drafted out of Syracuse in one year. Besides 1986, it has happened twice before. In 1983 Leo Rautins went in the 1st round, Erich Santifer in the 3rd round and Tony Bruin in the 7th. And in 1981 Danny Schayes went in the 1st round, Eddie Moss in the 4th and Marty Headd in the 9th.

Andy Rautins is the fifth Syracuse player drafted by the New York Knicks. Gary Clark was first, as a 3rd round pick in 1957. Marty Headd (9th round), Howard Triche (6th round) and John Wallace (1st round, 18th overall pick) were the other players.

In the Jim Boeheim era (1977-present), there have been 34 players drafted by the NBA. 16 of those were first round picks, 10 were second round picks, and 8 were taken in the now defunct 3rd through 9th rounds.

On the purely trivial side, Wes Johnson is the second Johnson from Syracuse ever drafted in the NBA. Dave Johnson was taken in the 1st round in 1991. Andy Rautins is the also second Rautins taken from Syracuse; his uncle George Rautins was drafted in 1975 by the Buffalo Braves out of Niagara University.

Both Johnson and Rautins have a strong upside to their game. Johnson, who made tremendous improvements after arriving at Syracuse, should be very interesting to follow in the NBA. He’s a rare combination of a great athlete who has an outstanding perimeter shot. If he learns to put the ball on the floor, he could be down right scary for opposing defenders.

Rautins improved significantly each year in college and was an outstanding perimeter shooter last season, despite being targeted by opposing defenses. He is also an outstanding passer who has a great feel for the game. Rautins is not as athletic as other draft picks, and may lack some of the lateral quickness, but you know that he’ll keep working on improving in those areas. And that international experience will continue to help him. This is a kid who came to college highly unnoticed, blew out his knee, and yet still managed to find time to put on 25-30 lbs of muscle, improve his quickness, improve his all around game dramatically, while impressing enough NBA scouts to get drafted.

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