Syracuse Men’s Basketball has played 12 games so far and has another 12 on the schedule (pending any hiccups), which means it is officially the exact halfway point of the season. There have been some highs and some lows for the Orange already. Some players have shined and others not so much. Before the season started we handed out preseason awards. Since we are now halfway through the year, let’s hand out some updated mid-season awards.
Team MVP: Quincy Guerrier
You can’t say enough about Quincy Guerrier this season. Like, really. You quite literally cannot say enough. The sophomore is far and away the best player on the Syracuse team and it’s not even close. Guerrier is averaging 17 points, which ranks seventh in the ACC, and ten rebounds, which is second in the conference. He is a consistent scorer, a solid defender, and is really the only player that Syracuse can rely on to clean up the glass. If you need any more convincing this should do it– Guerrier’s offensive rating on KenPom is 134.1, which is 24th in the entire country, as in the full United States of America. Plus, he is 15th in the nation in lowest turnover rate. The Candy Man is an absolute beast this year and is a serious candidate for one of the All-ACC teams, maybe even some national awards if he keeps this up.
Best Offensive Player: Buddy Boeheim
This one was a little more difficult to decide. The easy choice is Guerrier, but I don’t want to give him every award. That wouldn’t make for a good article. So, if Guerrier is off the table, I’d have to go with Buddy Boeheim. The junior is second on the team in points per game with 16, while contributing over three assists each contest. His three-ball has been off this season, which is worrisome since that is the majority of his game. The reason why I am giving this to Buddy instead of Alan Griffin is because Buddy doesn’t turn the ball over as much. Griffin is averaging three turnovers per game, compared to Boeheim’s one. Plus, Boeheim is taking higher quality shots, according to ShotQuality. There can definitely be an argument for either, but Buddy has a slight edge in my opinion.
Best Defensive Player: Kadary Richmond
Again, Guerrier could easily win this category too with his shot blocking ability. However, what Kadary Richmond is doing on the defensive end as a true freshman is extremely impressive. The guard is averaging over two steals per game, which is second best in the ACC. Not to mention, he is top-ten in the entire country in steal percentage at 5.5%. The closest any Syracuse player has been to that number was Michael Carter-Williams at 4.8% way back in 2013. Richmond’s size and massive wingspan is a major reason why SU has a top-60 defense in the NCAA, according to KenPom. His defensive prowess was evident in the win over Miami on Tuesday and has been throughout the season. It’s still early, but Richmond may be in the conversation for All-ACC Defensive Team by season’s end.
Most Improved: Quincy Guerrier
It may sound repetitive, but Guerrier is yet again the easy choice here, and honestly the only real choice. The forward had a groin injury all of last season that he didn’t make public until after the year had come to an end. He said he would go home crying after games because of the pain. He had surgery in the off season and is now back to full health, and boy can you tell. Guerrier has gone from bench player averaging just 20 minutes a game to a starter playing 33 minutes. He has upped his scoring by ten points and his rebounding by five boards per contest. Plus, his shooting percentages are up from the free throw line, the three point line, and the field. Guerrier has improved in every facet of the game.
Best Newcomer: Alan Griffin
Here is finally a category that Guerrier can’t compete in (only because he is not eligible). Now, what Richmond has been doing is fantastic, especially as a freshman. However, Griffin is more deserving of best newcomer in my opinion. He’s third on the team in scoring, second in rebounding, can play the top or the bottom of the zone, and has had some of the most important plays of the season, i.e. the block versus Buffalo. Are there still some question marks for Griffin? Yes, absolutely, but he has still been an instant contributor and a bonafide starter.