Some Syracuse fans probably gave their head a little shake with a wry smile when they saw Chad Ford’s latest “big board” for the NBA Draft. Ford ranks the top thirty prospects ahead of the Draft and his latest board did not have Tyler Lydon in the top 30, but in Ford’s list of the “next five”. If teams followed Ford’s list of best prospects, that would presumably make Lydon an early second round pick.
Surely, some Syracuse fans will think that this means that Lydon made some sort of grave mistake leaving early if it means that he won’t be drafted until the second round. However, that really isn’t the case.
The first thing that one has to think about is what Lydon would have actually gained by returning for his Junior year. His draft stock did not improve from his freshman to his sophomore seasons. Some said that Lydon was a potential lottery pick after he played a major role in Syracuse’s Cinderella run to the Final Four in 2016 and he didn’t crack the lottery in any of the mock drafts at any point this season. Arguably, the greatest asset that Lydon can bring to an NBA team is his defensive abilities and awareness. Returning to Syracuse wouldn’t really allow him to show NBA coaches and General Managers anything new. He would be returning to play an a system exclusively that is not played in the NBA. Period.
Lydon has already shown that he has a nice shooting stroke and that is something that he is unlikely to be able to show drastic improvement if he returned to the same school, under the same head coach. Then there is the fact that the coach on the staff that Lydon was closest to is now gone. Mike Hopkins left and now Lydon followed.
In the NBA, it is all about getting that second contract. In some ways, Tyler Ennis might feel some vindication now, after he likely played his way into a second NBA contract with the way he played in the last few months of the season with the Lakers. If Ennis does in fact get that contract, it is hard to argue that he made the wrong decision leaving school after only one year. It is hard to see what exactly Lydon could gain coming back to school and one could see the logic in him deciding that he might as well get the money now. If fulfils his potential, he will be able to play himself into a second contract.