Could Syracuse Have Nine Future NBA Players on Its Roster?

Thomas BuckinghamContributor IDecember 28, 2011

Could Syracuse Have Nine Future NBA Players on Its Roster?

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    This Syracuse basketball team, currently ranked No. 1 in both polls, could be the deepest it’s ever been in school history. Coach Jim Boeheim is not known for having much depth on the bench, and that was proven when only seven players logged more than 15 minutes of action when the Orange beat the UConn Huskies 127-117 in six overtimes back in 2009.

    Jonny Flynn led the way playing a total of 67 of the 70 total minutes the clock ticked. Fast forward to 2011, nine players have played in all 13 games thus far this season, and one player has played in 12. Could this team really have nine future NBA players on it roster? Let’s take a look.

Kris Joseph

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    The senior forward from Canada currently leads Syracuse in points and is the co-leader in rebounds. At 6’7’’ he has the size and athleticism to play small forward in the NBA and has consistently gotten better every year he’s put on that Orange uniform. This season he has noticeably improved on his ball-handling skills and is not afraid of taking it to the hole and finishing strong. The sky is the limit for this kid.

    Chance of making the NBA: 90 percent

Dion Waiters

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    The 6’4’’, 210-pound combo guard really broke out in the NCAA tournament last year and has continued that success into this season. In my opinion, he’s been the best player on this Syracuse squad, using his shooting ability to knock down threes, and his dribble drive skills and pure strength to absorb contact to earn three points the hard way.

    He’s only a sophomore, so if he continues to improve at the rate he’s doing it at now, he could be a first-round pick in 2013, like NBADraft.net and DraftExpress.com have him listed.

    Chance of making the NBA: 75 percent

Fab Melo

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    Starting as a freshman with the name Melo in Syracuse, expectations were high for Fab Melo last season. After a somewhat disappointing rookie year last year, the Brazilian has really turned things around this season. Dropping 20 pounds over the offseason, Melo is in much better shape and seems to have no problem getting up and down the court keeping up with his teammates.

    After only having the length and size to play at the next level, the 7-foot center now has shown he can score and rebound. With another year or two of Big East player, Fab Melo should be a first-round pick.

    Chance of making the NBA: 70 percent

Rakeem Christmas

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    The freshman was highly recruited coming out of high school and has started in all 13 games for the Orange this season. He's 6’9’’ with long arms. These are two key ingredients to becoming a lockdown defender in the NBA. He does need a little more work on his offensive game before we can consider him a complete talent and a future NBA star, however, NBADraft.net seems to think he’ll be a top-10 pick in 2013.

    Chance of making the NBA: 70 percent

Michael Carter-Williams

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    Part of Syracuse’s solid freshman recruiting class this year, Carter-Williams is a 6’5’’ point guard who has the talent and potential to play shooting guard as well. You could label him as a combo guard, but he’s not someone who is stuck between two positions. He has the ball-handling skills to run the point and the scoring ability needed to play the 2.

    Unfortunately for him, he is stuck behind Dion Waiter, Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche on the Syracuse depth chart. Once he gets enough playing time and he’s able to prove himself in the college ranks, the NBA should be in his sights.

    Chance of making the NBA: 60 percent

C.J. Fair

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    Overshadowed by the likes of the players previously listed, Fair is only a sophomore but has proven he can get in the paint and isn’t afraid of any player in the most physical league in college basketball. He is 6’8’’, a great rebounder and a great athlete. Like Christmas, he needs some work on his offense. If he can get a consistent jump shot, he has a future in the NBA.

    Chance of making the NBA: 50 percent

Brandon Triche

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    Syracuse’s starting point the past two years, Triche has the size and strength to be a point guard in the NBA, but is the talent there? He is a very smart player, as he doesn’t force any stupid passes, which keeps his turnover ratio down, and he is an above average three-point scorer. He does a good job at using his size and quickness to getting into the lanes and draw fouls.

    His only real problem is he really doesn’t have star potential to become a first-round pick. So it all comes down to if a team wants to settle for a player that they know what they’ll get, like a Brandon Triche, or gamble and hope they get something better.

    Chance of making the NBA: 50 percent

Scoop Jardine

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    Like Triche, Jardine really doesn’t have a ton of potential. He is a good point guard at the college level but probably not good enough to make it make it in the NBA. Scoop is a good shooter, a good passer and a good on-the-court leader. But, is good good enough?

    Chance of making the NBA: 35 percent

Trevor Cooney

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    With all the depth this Syracuse team has, Cooney and the coaching staff decided it was better for the freshman to sit out a year as a redshirt. Yet to play a game in college, not much has been published on this kid, but most recruiting sites listed him as an elite shooter and compared him to Andy Rautins. Rautins was drafted in the second round by the New York Knicks in 2010.

    Chance of making the NBA: 25 percent