He’ll Be Back
Don’t be surprised when Jon Scheyer makes an NBA roster.
by Jon Jaques / @JJaques25
Whether or not he thought about this while cutting down the nets in Indianapolis, Jon Scheyer certainly visualized his post-grad summer going a little big differently than it has unfolded. A mid-May bout with mono left the former Duke star behind the competition, 10 pounds underweight, scrambling to make up for lost time, and possibly cost him a spot in the NBA Draft.
Scheyer, appropriately enough, signed a free agent deal with the Las Vegas’ ’10-11 NBA champion Miami Heat, trading the jersey of one hated sports establishment for sport’s newest villain. In Vegas, less than two summer league games into his Miami Heat career and after a solid debut against the Hornets, Scheyer suffered a lacerated eyelid 6:40 into the Heat’s match-up with the Golden State Warriors that left him with five stitches and knocked him out of the Heat’s remaining summer league games. Scheyer’s first flirtation with the NBA ended and his chance to play with the “Monstars” in Miami this fall likely went with it. After all, no NBA team should offer a contract to a player after only 36 game minutes of evaluation time. Should they?
I understand talent evaluation differs in college and the NBA. I also understand that Scheyer, while a great college player, is, at best, a fringe NBA player at this moment, but a player with the credentials, experience, proven moxie of Scheyer has value and a place in the NBA. Scheyer would have two potential initial NBA roles:
1) Bringing his talents and championship pedigree to a young, growing team (I.e. Nets, Wizards, Wolves). Teams like these that seem to find new ways to lose each season can always use a player like Scheyer (even if his big game experience only extends to the college level).
2) If you don’t buy the “proven winner” argument, at the very least Scheyer is a guy who can be trusted to make the right decisions with the rock on a veteran, championship-minded squad. Scheyer actually fit in the Miami Heat perfectly, which literally adds insult to his unfortunate injury. Scheyer is clearly competent enough to bring the ball up the court, feed LeBron, DWade, or Bosh and get the hell out of the way. He’s even reliable enough to knock down an open jump shot when the BFFs (Best Free Agent Friends) decide to pass to someone other than each other.
Which begs the question: Why (in all likelihood) will Scheyer be playing in Europe next season and not the NBA? Is it because people look at him and see a slow white point guard? Steve Blake, a national champion in his college days at Maryland, has certainly proven it doesn’t take Ty Lawson speed or Brandon Jennings quickness to be a successful NBA point guard. So then has Scheyer been hurt by the less than impressive track record of former Duke Blue Devils in the NBA? Just to clear the air, I can’t stand Duke, but this stereotype is overblown. Christian Laettner probably deserves most of the blame for its popularity, but Shelden Williams, Roshown McLeod and William Avery didn’t help. While fans that expect Duke players to become NBA stars are usually disappointed, Coach K at the very least produces (with a few exceptions) serviceable NBA players.
Simply put, Scheyer has been the victim of awful luck these past few months. Despite his misfortune, he still may end up getting an invite to training camp this fall, and if not, I won’t be surprised to see Jon Scheyer in the NBA within a year or two. Plus, as many great college basketball players have found out the hard way, it’s unbelievably difficult to earn a guaranteed NBA contract as a second round pick, let alone as an undrafted free agent, which makes what fellow Ivy Leaguer and former rival Jeremy Lin has accomplished even more impressive. Congrats Jeremy, Ivy represent!
Jon Jaques is a former starter for the Cornell Big Red and current forward for Israel’s Ironi Ashkelon club.