With Elijah Hughes off to the NBA, there’s a starting spot open for SU. Joe Girard, Buddy Boeheim, Marek Dolezaj, and Bourama Sidibe seem entrenched in the starting five. But who’s the small forward. Let’s break down a couple options.
Newton is a 6-foot-8 wing. While he describes himself as a slasher, he has a pure three-point stroke which Syracuse desperately needs at small forward. Unlike his fellow incoming freshmen, Newton has the appropriate size to suite up at the 3 for the Orange. While 247sports lists Newton as a power forward, he’s only an average rebounder and needs to get bigger. Bumping him down to small forward allows Newton to matchup with smaller opponents, and takes some pressure off to rebound. With Newton on the floor at small forward, Syracuse should be a better rebounding team. But whether he’s playing the 3 or the 4, Newton must get bigger.
Now let’s look at the other incoming freshman. Richmond is a 6-foot-5 combo guard. He could probably swing the small forward position, but it’s a tough ask. Richmond can score from anywhere on the floor, and is comfortable shooting contested looks from deep or rising over guys in the lane. If he wasn’t comfortable driving to the bucket, Richmond probably wouldn’t make this list.
If paired with SU’s starters, Richmond may be the most athletic guy on the floor. He’s got good bounce and is already comfortable finishing through contact, or blowing past his defender. He would be extremely raw at small forward, but it’s a position he might be able to manage.
Guerrer may be the most athletic player on Syracuse’s roster. Putting him at small forward, with Dolezaj and Sidibe on the court should turn Syracuse into an above-average rebounding team. Last season this was an area SU really struggled.
For Guerrier to hold down the small forward spot, he needs to become a better shooter. All season long Jim Boeheim voiced his belief in Guerrier as a shooter, but the results never came. Maybe an offseason to improve his shooting, and his confidence, will do wonders for Guerrier.
The last guy on the list who could potentially play the three for the Orange is Boeheim. Obviously putting the 6-foot-5 Boeheim at small forward isn’t ideal, but Syracuse doesn’t have a perfect option right now. Putting Boeheim at the three gives Syracuse more flexibility to recruit transfers. For example, if the staff likes a certain guard more than a small forward it’s pursuing, it could still offer starters minutes by bumping Boeheim up a position.
The problem with Boeheim playing small forward is his size and strength. Even bulky shooting guards were able to bully Boeheim into the paint. That problem only gets worse at small forward. Boeheim also wouldn’t be as successful with his turnaround midrange jumper against taller defenders.
However, placing Boeheim at the 3 spreads a defense out, especially if Syracuse adds another deep-threat shooting guard.
Unless Syracuse finds a small forward transfer who fills all the boxes, it’ll have to settle for a guy who has some of the skillsets. There’s a couple different routes Boeheim could take. Either place a shooter at the position and be forced to play smaller. Or add more muscle but takeaway the shooting ability.