With the NBA Draft Combine finishing up in Chicago over the past weekend, Syracuse basketball fans will all be wondering the same thing for the next 10 days or so: will Tyus Battle come back for his junior year? Battle has until midnight on May 30th to decide, and until then, he’ll be working out with a few unnamed NBA teams at their private facilities.
Battle went into the combine as a big question mark on many experts’ draft boards and after the three-day event some of those question marks are starting to clear up a bit, even if the waters are still a bit murky. From mock drafts to expert opinions, Orange Fizz has got you covered when it comes to Battle’s draft stock post-combine.
Mock Draft Positioning
One of the biggest questions heading into the draft/combine phase for Battle was if he were to be drafted, where would he fall in the draft order? When you consider the kind of scoring numbers he put up last year as the ACC’s third-leading scorer at 19.2 ppg (ahead of the likes of potential lottery picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Lonnie Walker IV), it seems like he would project as a mid-first round pick at worst. However, questions about his ability to shoot the three-ball and use his left hand, among other things, have made his projection pretty difficult to read.
Out of every mock draft coming from a reputable site that I have seen post-combine, not a single one has Battle slated as a first-round pick. That includes ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who, after the tournament, had Battle as a late first-round pick to the Brooklyn Nets. In fact, only two sites have Battle being selected at all (part of this is because most sites only offer a first-round mock and not a second, but still). ESPN currently has Battle heading south to Memphis as the 32nd overall pick by the Grizzlies. Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated is projecting that Battle stays in ACC country and is selected with the 55th overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets. There’s still a little bit of time for Battle to impress teams in individual workouts over the next week or so (reports say he’s already impressed the Los Angeles Clippers), but, at least according to mock drafts, it doesn’t look like Battle will get the first-round guarantee you’d like to see before you forego two years of eligibility.
Projecting where Battle might fall is all well and good, but, perhaps the more interesting thing to find out is what experts and general managers actually think about Battle. I’m going to warn you right now, the prognosis isn’t great. Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report is one of the foremost experts on the NBA Draft and after day one of the combine, he listed Battle as one of the “disappointments” of that day’s competition.
NBA combine Day 1 standouts: Kevin Huerter, Donte DiVincenzo, Jacob Evans, Svi Mykhailiuk, Melvin Frazier, Josh Okogie, Jaylen Hands, Sagaba Konate, PJ Washington, Alize Johnson
Disappointments: Rawle Alkins, Devonte' Graham, Shake Milton, Tyus Battle, Brandon McCoy
— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) May 17, 2018
Wasserman also noted that Battle seemed, “practically invisible”, not great to say the least. (On a side note, Wasserman included Battle in his list of who the combine hurt and seemed to suggest that he go back to school for another year. He also said that other shooting guards outside of Battle like Donte DiVincenzo and Kevin Huerter were very impressive at the combine, which only serves to hurt Battle’s stock)
Wasserman isn’t the only expert that we should consider listening to though. Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated was also at the combine, and similarly to Wasserman, was not all that impressed with Battle’s showing. Woo listed Battle in his “stock falling” category and was especially concerned with the hitch in his jump shot and his ability to get away from being iso-heavy like he had to be at SU because of the lack of scoring help around him and become more of a team-oriented role player. Woo said Battle did not look like a top-40 pick this year and even went as far as to insinuate that, after talking to NBA GMs, that he wasn’t sure how much Battle would be able to help his draft stock even if he decided to return to school. Not seeing him as a top-40 pick this year is concerning enough, but you really start to wonder about his pro chances moving forward when you hear something like that.
Where is Battle leaning?
After what we’ve seen in the mock drafts and heard from the experts, it seems pretty clear that if Battle wants to be a first-round pick in the NBA Draft at some point, then coming back to Syracuse for another year may be the best and most effective path for him. However, the opinions of experts and mock draft makers do not a college returnee make. According to Adam Zagoria of the New York Times, SNY TV and zagsblog.com among others, Battle is “likely” to remain in the NBA Draft despite some of the negative feedback he’s had over the past couple of days. That information comes from a source “close to the situation”, so do with that what you will. From the beginning of this process, Gary Battle, Tyus’s dad, has said that the decision is less about what experts have to say about his son and more about if Tyus feels it’s right for him to go pro or not.
It will certainly be an interesting next week or so when it comes to figuring out exactly where Battle stands in the eyes of NBA teams, as well as where his head is at regarding the draft. Keep it locked to Orange Fizz for all of the updates on Battle’s stock.