With all of the positive momentum that has been going the way of Syracuse, there was always going to be the crash back down, and that was Judah Mintz’s NBA draft announcement. He’s the first major domino of last season’s roster to make a decision on staying or leaving, as there’s been radio silence from pretty much the entire roster. So, let’s dive into Mintz’s decision.
From the moment he committed to Syracuse, he was destined to be SU’s starting point guard. Jim Boeheim wanted Joe Girard III to move to the two, and that allowed Mintz to play on the ball, where he thrived but also had some growing pains. His numbers are terrific, 16.3 points, 4.6 assists, and 1.8 steals per game as a freshman. He showed a strong ability to get to the basket, draw contact, facilitate, and his mid-range game is superb.
All of these things are on the radar of NBA draft experts and teams, and while Mintz is maintaining his eligibility, it seems more likely than not that he’s going to turn pro. If Mintz can prove to teams in the pre-draft process his three-pointer is further along than he showed for most of the season, there’s no reason he can’t be a first-round pick. It came on at the end of the year, but consistency in that department is what’s going to make him a good NBA player to go along with his ball-handling, scoring, and defense.
Yes, there’s the argument that Mintz can come back and get picked higher with a strong 2023-24 season, potentially even in the late lottery. There’s a trend for players in their sophomore year to explode on the season nationally and then move up draft boards. Think Jaden Ivey and Bennedict Mathurin just last year, and Franz Wagner in 2021, all second-year college players drafted in the top-8. Now, this is not to say that Mintz is at that level, but he certainly could be playing under Adrian Autry and next to J.J. Starling next year.
Mintz came in at 29th on Jonathan Wasserman’s latest big board on Bleacher Report, where he said “While skeptics may focus on Mintz’s lack of three-pointers, his shiftiness, burst, and aggressive driving mixed with dangerous mid-range shot-making could buy him to time to add range. He also averaged 4.6 assists and 1.8 steals, numbers that reflect two-way playmaking and Mintz’s potential to impact games as a setup passer and defensive energizer.”
So, Mintz has a big decision to make, and that’s not one that SU fans should pressure him about or make for him. This is arguably the most important decision he’s ever made in his life, and he should do what he and his family think is best for his future and their future. There shouldn’t be a single person who objects to Mintz playing another year at SU, but if he doesn’t, none of us can blame him, because even in a down year, he provided Syracuse with one of its most exciting and best freshman seasons in quite a while.