It’s no secret that Tyus Battle is one of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s NBA Draft. No, it’s not because he has league-changing potential a la Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley or Luka Doncic. Rather, Battle isn’t necessarily a lock to keep his name in the draft. Right now, the guard is a fringe first round pick by most mock drafts. However, the Tyus Battle that Syracuse fans grew to know isn’t may not be the Battle that would intrigue NBA teams. He’s a question mark that was certainly masked by the Orange’s system, both offensively and defensively.
Last year, the Orange depended on Battle to do the bulk of the scoring. With few other legitimate offensive weapons, that left him double teamed or forced into rushed last-second shots against the shot clock. Along with that, there’s the age-old question that Syracuse players face in their NBA transition: How will they perform outside the zone? The Fizz has detailed what Battle needs to prove and whether or not he will stay. But this year’s class features a number of players who Battle is in competition NBA attention. So who does Battle need to outperform at the combine to solidify himself as a first rounder?
Jacob Evans, Junior, G/F, Cincinnati
Evans is your classic Cincinnati player. A hard-nosed, scrappy player. But he also thrives from behind the three point arc, which makes him an intriguing prospect in the modern NBA. If Battle can prove to teams that his shot is pro-ready, Battle could be a more intriguing player since he is also a year younger.
Bruce Brown, Sophomore, G, Miami
Brown battled a foot injury this year that led him to get surgery and miss the last half of the season. Just like Battle, Brown has a lot to prove at this combine, but for different reasons. He has to show he’s still the same player prior to getting hurt. Battle doesn’t have the injury question attached to him, which means he can surpass Brown if he showcases his explosiveness.
Jerome Robinson, Junior, G, Boston College
Robinson is another ACC foe that Battle faced in his college days. In fact, Battle and Robinson are two of just three players (Bagley) to average at least 20 points per game in ACC play. Battle outscored Robinson in both meetings this season, which may bode well for him confidence-wise. Both players are fringe first round picks, so the combine could be a huge factor in who gets picked first.
Khyri Thomas, Junior, G, Creighton
Like each of the previous three players, Battle has a major advantage in the age department. And like all of them except for Robinson, he is the much superior scorer. Thomas is a great defender, a trait that’s relatively unknown with Battle. If the Orange guard can showcase that he hasn’t lost his stellar man-to-man defense from high school, his scoring will make him the more intriguing pro.
Donte DiVincenzo, Sophomore, G, Villanova
Donte DiVincenzo, meet Malachi Richardson. Talk about guys who saw their draft stock skyrocket thanks to a couple stellar NCAA Tournament games. DiVincenzo probably wasn’t on a lot of NBA radars prior to this season. On the other hand, Battle was. DiVincenzo is crafty, but Battle clearly fits the NBA mold better. If he proves that, it would be tough to see a team choose the Big Ragu over Battle.
Rawle Alkins, Sophomore, G/F, Arizona
Like Brown, Alkins also battled a major foot injury. When he was on the floor, the swingman stepped up when Allonzo Trier was suspended. He was overshadowed by the surrounding Wildcats talent over his two years, but that may have helped his stats when teams directed their attention towards the likes of Trier, Ayton and Lauri Markkanen.
Hamidou Diallo, Freshman, G, Kentucky
Diallo was a guy who people thought could have been a first rounder last year as a technicality in what would have been a Darius Bazley-esque move. The former Syracuse target is a super raw prospect at the moment who could turn into a quality player if he develops. If anything, Diallo may serve as a warning to Battle of the dangers of not entering. Diallo projects as a second rounder now, which shows the difference a year can make if you don’t prove yourself.