Assuming Dion Waiters does return to Syracuse, there’s no guarantees for playing time because the guard rotation next season is stacked. If Waiters is on a short leash, he could be in serious trouble if he doesn’t get off to a quick start.
Outside of Dion, the backcourt is jammed with returning upperclassmen Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine, and newcomers Michael Carter-Williams and Trevor Cooney. That’s a lot of talent and only 80 minutes of playing time per game, meaning one or two of these guys will be seeing a lot of bench.
Waiters’ minutes fluctuated his freshman year and he rarely made a major contribution despite showing flashes of brilliance. Waiters averaged just 16 minutes per game and never played more than 26 minutes. In Big East play it was even less, as Dion generally played between 10-20 minutes, scoring in double figures only twice (against the two worst teams in the conference). Waiters, though, memorably ended the season in spectacular fashion with 18 points in the NCAA tourney loss. But we know he’s still wildly inconsistent and couldn’t be counted on to play smart the majority of the time.
If last year is any indication, expect to see both Scoop and Triche for a 25-30 minutes per game each. MCW has already drawn comparisons to Shaun Livingston for his offensive skills. If Carter-Williams impresses early and can force his way into the rotation, Waiters could be riding pine. Cooney also cannot be counted out, especially if he brings the 3-point threat the Orange lacked this season.
Dion unquestionably has the talent to play at Syracuse, but with a crowded backcourt and attitude problems he’s one mistake away from an extended stay on the bench. Hopefully Dion can pull it all together and be a major contributor on this team, but concerns surrounding his maturity and decision-making suggest otherwise. Waiters is the ultimate wild card – playing big minutes next year or reduced to a very small role in the rotation. The Orange backcourt will be sturdy no matter what, but if Dion gets his act together the guard rotation could be special. If not, Waiters could become a cautionary tale for future Syracuse players.
Posted: Alex Plavin