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Chris Bell Isn’t Syracuse’s True Second Option Yet

Chris Bell

Syracuse forward Chris Bell has been hot and cold to start the season. 

On the positive side, his 25-point outing against Colgate helped SU overcome a 24-point deficit in the second half. The sophomore also tallied 20 points on 6/10 shooting from behind the arc in a dominant win over LSU.

Some games have still been duds, though. Bell shot an ugly 2/18 from the floor against Gonzaga. He also scored just five points on nine shots in a rough loss to Virginia this weekend.

Despite some ugly outings, it’s overall been a good year so far for Bell. His 13.4 points per game rank second on the Orange. Don’t get it twisted though. That doesn’t mean he’s Syracuse’s bona fide number two option behind Judah Mintz yet.

The first reason has been pointed out already, and that’s inconsistency. While a number two option doesn’t need to show up every night, there needs to be more stability than Bell has shown. A five-point performance every few games is less than helpful, especially considering the volume of shots he puts up. When Bell’s shot is cold and he jacks up 16 misses, those misses are taking away chances from his teammates.

Another reason that Chris Bell shouldn’t be considered SU’s second-best offensive player is his play style. While his driving has gotten better, the wing still isn’t great at creating his own shot. Bell is still a spot-up shooter at heart. Just under 60% of his shots this year have been three-pointers. That may change going forward, but it’s hard to run the offense around someone that needs the ball in other people’s hands often. 

That leads into the third explanation for Bell’s status within the offense. He just doesn’t have a varied enough skillset. Bell can’t set up his teammates well, with just six assists through seven appearances. And while rebounding isn’t the most important skill to consider on offense, you’d like to see more than three offensive boards from a 6’7” player.

This begs the question: Is there anyone on Syracuse that can firmly say that they’re the second option behind Mintz? I’d argue no, no one has taken that mantle just yet. It could be Bell, but it could end up being Starling, Taylor, or Williams, depending on how the season plays out.

At the end of the day, Chris Bell is a solid shooter who could continue to develop into something more. But for now, he isn’t a solid number two in SU’s offense. Bell is someone that can sometimes provide points, but isn’t consistent enough.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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