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Is Buddy Boeheim Still an NBA Draft Prospect?

Photo courtesy of syracuse.com

Back after lighting up the ACC and NCAA Tournaments last March, Buddy Boeheim had gone from a nobody to somebody. The junior guard averaged 25+ points over his final 7 games in 2021 and was popping up on NBA Draft boards. But, after the SU’s season ended in the Sweet 16, Boeheim and his father announced he’d be returning to school for his senior year.

2022 has been anything but a sweet ride for Syracuse. The Orange are currently just 9-11, headed into a matchup with 17-4 Wake Forest on Saturday. Boeheim’s raw numbers are still strong, at just under 19 points per game, almost 90% from the foul line, and right around 3.5 rebounds and assists per game as well.

But, the senior’s efficiency has taken a major dip this season for Syracuse. Last year, Boeheim had Kadary Richmond and Quincy Guerrier to take the load off him offensively and beat teams in the paint off the dribble. The 2022 team does not have that, and if the rest of the team is not shooting well, the entire burden of the offense falls on the coach’s son.

Boeheim is shooting just under 40% from the field and under 33% from three-point range. Last season, the then-junior was over 43% from the field and over 38% from three. Boeheim’s lack of efficiency is a team schematic problem, not a personal one. He’s asked to do too much for this team, plain and simple.

In terms of actual numbers, Boeheim is no longer on ESPN’s top 100 Big Board for the 2022 NBA Draft after standing at 73rd in the fall. The senior also comes up empty on The Athletic’s top 100 Big Board. Back in April, he was at 76th. 

Boeheim has his limitations as a player. He is not good defensively, even in a zone. He lacks the lateral quickness to beat people off the dribble. Additionally, Boeheim needs a high volume of shots to get going. A lot of times this season, he’s started slow and picked it up in the second half (Indiana, Clemson, etc…). 

But, there are a lot of positives of what Boeheim could bring to an NBA roster. He’s often compared to Duncan Robinson by people in the Syracuse area. Robinson is taller, more athletic, and a superior defender to SU’s star. While Boeheim possesses similar shooting ability and the threat to rise and fire over smaller defenders, he is not a Robinson-level player. 

Overall, Syracuse’s leading scorer has a chance to make his way to the NBA similar to how Robinson did. Light up the G-League, get noticed and make the most of an opportunity. 

To add to the speculation of who is returning next season to SU, Jim Boeheim said last night on his weekly radio show that he expects 2-to 3 freshmen to start, and named ten players who he thought would be back. He did not mention his two sons or Cole Swider. 

The talk of Jimmy Boeheim returning next season is polarizing, but if Boeheim is telling the truth and all five freshmen are going to play, there is no room on the team for Boeheim, Boeheim, and Swider. 

Syracuse’s leading scorer may be playing his final games in Orange over the next month plus, and he’ll have to show talent evaluators a lot to get back on the NBA radar. The road to the NBA is not always glamorous and after this season at SU, Boeheim knows things are not always going to go the way they were planned to be.

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