On May 30, 2018, Tyus Battle announced he was coming back to Syracuse for his junior season, for another year playing with what promised (or not) to be a stacked team (with Darius Bazley). Given Syracuse fan’s experiences with Tyler Lydon and Malachi Richardson in the two years prior, Battle coming back felt like a real bonus. He was projected to be drafted in the 20’s by most experts.
This season, something important is happening that people aren’t talking about. Battle has slipped down draft boards. Here is where Battle is being projected by various media.
Espn: 49 (Jan. 7)
Athletic: 30 (Dec. 28)
Sports Illustrated: 73 (Jan. 3)
Sport’s Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo accompanied his low ranking for Battle with a fairly scathing blurb. “In many ways it feels like Battle has plateaued at Syracuse after returning to school, and though he has a good build and has been a useful college scorer, he does not project with a ton of upside moving forward,” Woo wrote.
If projections hold, the New Jersey native would likely want to play out his senior year at SU.
I would expect Battle to move back up draft boards before season’s end, however. His drop may have been a reaction to inexplicable shooting woes to start the season. That appears to have been a really really bad slump, and nothing more. Recently, Battle has been scoring at extremely efficient rates, and his jump shot actually looks improved from last season. He’s 39 % from three, excluding the opening four games of the season. His field goal percentage is eight points higher than last year, at 48%.
One valid critique for Battle might be his usage rate, which is lower than Oshae Brissett’s. If he wants to get drafted as an NBA scorer, he needs to show he can take initiative when the offense is struggling. He took ten shots (4/10) in SU’s loss to Buffalo. In the words of Jim Boeheim, that can’t happen.