Numbers Support Basketball Prospectus: Dion Is Syracuse’s Best Guard

The Fizz takes a look inside the numbers and comes to a surprising conclusion.

A new series from Basketball Prospectus ranks the top 100 college basketball players for the upcoming season and two Syracuse players made the first group rated 71-100. Checking in at #99 was everybody’s favorite heart attack Scoop Jardine. His cousin, Dion Waiters checked in at #74. Neither of these were all that surprising, but the descriptions of the two players were somewhat shocking on the first read.

99. Scoop Jardine, Syracuse (Jr., PG)

“There are a lot of people who think Scoop has an overconfidence problem. Regardless of the validity of that assertion, Jardine is one of the better passers in the country and is a reasonably efficient scorer, even when taking on a heavy load in the Orange offense.”

This analysis is pretty accurate, but the words “reasonably efficient scorer” punch you in the face so hard you feel like Uzzy. Jardine’s numbers dropped off significantly last year in the efficiency realm.

Year PPG Min PPM* FG% 3P% PPS**
2009-2010 (Bench) 9.1 22.2 .40 48.9% 38.9% 1.36
2010-2011 (Starter) 12.1 32.1 .37 41.5% 35.7% 1.18

PPM = Points per minute
**PPS = Points per shot

Yes, he carried a large offensive load because no one else seemingly wanted to shoot and a lot more responsibility as the starting point guard, but 2010-11 Scoop was nothing remotely close to efficient when it came to scoring. These are simple stats, without the need for advanced metrics to prove that. Not to mention anyone with two working eyeballs knew Scoop forced as many shots as anyone. Additionally, many of them were bad shots early in the shot clock.

Then there is Dion.

74. Dion Waiters, Syracuse (So., SG)

“Per possession, Waiters’ season was almost identical to teammate Brandon Triche’s, but Waiters is a year younger and forced a bunch of extra turnovers on the defensive end. I wouldn’t be remotely surprised to look back at the end of 2012 and see Waiters as the Orange’s best player.”

As an unabashed Brandon Triche fan and someone who’s called Triche the best NBA prospect on the team, my first instinct was to laugh hysterically. It’s not that Dion is bad and he was the best Orange player by far against Marquette, however the idea his stats could go possession for possession with Triche was laughable to me.

And then I looked it up.

You could make the argument Waiters is actually better than Triche. What?!?! Yup. But wait there’s more.

What the writer is missing is what we can call “the Scoop theory” (see above). Part of the reason Jardine’s numbers were better two years ago than in 2010-11 is that he actually had less of a sample size to work with, not to mention playing worse competition. Scoop would come in and his mission was to be instant offense against an inferior backup guard. This is exactly what Dion did last year while Triche played starter’s minutes against starting guards. Switch the roles and you switch the numbers.

The one laughable implication is that Waiters is a better defender. Both of them are terrible, but if you are picking the lesser of two evils, it’s Triche. Dion is the guy Boeheim benched for his defense (whether you believe that or not is irrelevant. His defense is bad enough that the story was believable) in mid-January.

Waiters showed doubters plenty of looks during the Marquette game that are rare from a young guard. He made good decisions, took smart shots and attacked the rim with a quickness we hadn’t seen all year. If he can (now that he’s staying on the team and all) take that into the 2011-2012 season, his critics may have to change their tune. Waiters, not Triche (or Kris Joseph or Fab Melo) might just be the best pro prospect and player on the Orange.

The one thing all these numbers don’t look at, though, is what doesn’t show up in the box. Both players want the ball in their hands late, are comfortable late in games because and make their free throws (the only two guys on SU you can say that about). The difference comes in attitude. The blowups with Dion are well documented while Triche is as trouble free as they come (if you discount Twitter…#smh). Scoop is no doubt the leader of the Orange and for Syracuse to be successful Joseph is going to have to grow into the player everyone waited for last year. However if either Triche or Waiters grows into a dominant player, the Orange could live up to their pre-season love.

After the tumultous off-season The Per’fesser’s squad has had, they’d take any sort of pleasant surprise.

Posted: Craig Hoffman

9 Comments on this Post

  1. I think Scoop will have a breakout year. Offensively? No.. But he will put in his 10-15 pts a game and lead this Orange team. Whether you like it or not.

    I like that Triche got more aggressive with his shooting on the back end of last season, and I hope he starts off this season that way.

    Waiters is good, but he needs to step it up with the talented youngins coming in.

    My impact players for 2012 will be :
    Scoop Jardine
    Kris Josepf
    CJ Fair


  2. Dion is in Coach JB’s doghouse. It is not a secret that Dion antics were frowned upon my JB and this guy is thought of as the second coming of Josh Wright as far as for being a knucklehead on this team. Not Wright. dion has a ton of talent but he does not apply the strategy of Coach JB.

  3. honestly at least 7-8 guys have the potentional and upside to be nba talents.(triche waiters joseph melo fair christmas mcw and even scoop is being talked about at least a late 2nd round pick after being evaluated at the LBJ camp)Some of them i doubt would reach their potential by next season but really anyone of them have the natural talent to step in as the teams star. it would be awsome tho if they all did over the summer they would be a force.

  4. cap2nine

    Some good points made in this article and by Andy and Lou R. I don’t think it’s reasonable to proclaim Dion as Syracuse’s best Guard…. yet. But, if he can buy into the defensive philosophy and learn how to play nice with JB, his upside is tremendous! I have no doubt that he has the talent and ability to be a top NBA prospect from the Orange and to be a truly game changing, dominant player in the BE but he has to get his head in the right place. Like the author, I too hold Triche in high regard and would like to see his defensive play improve greatly. Triche may be the next “rock” on the team, replacing our beloved Ricky. Triche is completely unselfish (almost to a fault) and seems to be dedicated and willing to pour his heart into this team. As for Scoop, I’ve never been a big fan but I have to recognize his willingness to take the true leadership role on this team last year. Jackson was the team’s heart and soul but he never really “commanded” the team. And KJ, sadly, just doesn’t seem to “want it” enough. He could take a game completely over…. if he would just decide to. I’ve all but given up hoping that he will exert himself and I’ve begun pinning my hopes on Fair. CJ could truly develop into a special player. Never the less, last year the team need a leader, others didn’t want the spotlight so Scoop took it. He actually, despite my frustration with him, did a solid job. He posted respectable numbers and was the only one willing to consistently take it straight to the other team despite being a focal point for opposing defenses. Unlike the year before, when coming off the bench in the midst of other offensive weapons, he was under no real pressure and warranted little attention from the defenses. What drove me crazy, this past year, game after game after game was Scoop’s inexplicable “boneheadedness” at the most crucial and worst possible moments. If he could limit those foolish mistakes I wouldn’t mind him having the ball in his hands. All in all, I love the talent pool on this team right now and truly believe that they are just a few mental adjustments away from a BE title and maybe much more.

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