Quadir Copeland has been on an absolute tear recently. In Syracuse basketball’s last four games, the guard is averaging 16 points, 6 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 2 steals. He even broke his career-high in points three separate times in that span. That type of play is garnering plenty of comparisons to former Orange guards. Here are the best ones we’ve seen so far.
Quadir Copeland is so similar to Michael Carter-Williams that the comparisons started well before he stepped on the court at SU. In fact, the Orange’s coaches even told him that he’d get to play the “MCW role” while recruiting him.
It just makes too much sense. Both are 6’6” guards that can drive to the hoop well, hold their own on the boards, and play suffocating defense. Their Syracuse careers have even played out similarly, with limited opportunities as freshman, but breakout sophomore campaigns.
Their paths might finally diverge, though. Carter-Williams was a first-round selection in the NBA Draft after two years, and even won Rookie of the Year. Copeland is a long shot to jump to the pros this year, with a lack of a consistent three-point shot being a factor. MCW didn’t have one either, but the game has changed since then.
Regardless, Copeland to Carter-Williams is an apt comparison. Both are tall, fierce players that have provided an immense amount of value to the Orange.
Another tall guard that played good defense, who would have guessed? Gbinije took a similar path to Copeland in that he was forced to play at the forward position early in his career, but shone once he got to shift to his natural spot at guard.
The duo shares most of their defensive strengths, but offensively, there are some real differences. Simply put, Gbinije was more of a scorer. He put up 13 and 18 points per game in his final two seasons, when he got most of his playing time. More importantly, Gbinije was more of a shooter, with a career 39% rate from behind the arc. For reference, Copeland has hit just two of his 20 three-point attempts.
The offensive differences aren’t all bad for Copeland, though. His passing is much better, and he really leans into the role of point guard more than Gbinije did. Copeland has probably had more highlight-reel passes in less than two seasons than Gbinije did in his career.
While their frames aren’t a perfect match, the intensity within these players is pretty similar. Although Copeland stands four inches taller than the 6’2” Jardine, neither is a player that you’d want to have to stop on a drive to the hoop.
Looking at stat lines, there’s a fair bit of overlap. Copeland’s 8.4 points per game this season is just shy of Jardine’s 9.0 career average. Copeland doesn’t rack up as many assists, but his rebounding numbers are a hair higher to compensate.
Copeland isn’t the exact same type of player that Jardine was, but the vibes they brought to their teams make the comparison more than fair.
This is more of a “What if?” comparison. If you don’t remember, Kadary Richmond spent his freshman year with SU in 2020-21 before leaving to get more of a role at Seton Hall. Similar to many other names on this list, Richmond is a 6’6” guard that can do a little bit of everything except for shooting from deep particularly well.
It’s hard not to imagine if Richmond got more playing time in front of or alongside Joe Girard. He very well could have developed into what Quadir Copleand is for SU: a spark plug that can drive and defend.
While he never became that for Syracuse, Richmond is playing better than ever for the Pirates as a senior this year. He’s putting up a career best 15 points per contest, and even led Seton Hall to a huge upset win over #5 UConn.
Alright, now this one is a stretch. Both great sixth men for Syracuse? Sure. But play style? Completely different. Waiters was known to pull up from anywhere on the court. His 198 career three-point shots will likely be double what Copeland puts up in his career. The current bench star is much more of a driver. Further than that, Waiters was a pure scorer. Passing and rebounding came second, which isn’t the case at all for Copeland.
Both Quadir Copeland and Dion Waiters have brought energy off the bench for the Orange, but they have two completely different styles. Nothing wrong with it, but there isn’t too much similar between these two players.