Syracuse Basketball: Can Kris Joseph and Dion Waiters Excel in the NBA?

Robin LalisseCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2012

In what is quite possibly the deepest NBA draft in the last decade, Kris Joseph and Dion Waiters could become late first-round or early second-round draft steals.

Joseph has gone from the best all-around player on this Orange squad to not even the best forward for Syracuse, as James Southerland and C.J. Fair have better shooting percentages and have led many scoring runs. With that being said, Joseph is a late first-round pick who will potentially be a great backup swing-man who can shoot the three, defend both shooting guards and small forwards, and is a winner.

Joseph's season (13.7 points per game, 4.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 steals) is not only a representation of some untapped potential as a scorer, but also great versatility and competitiveness on a great team while only playing 30.2 minutes a game. He is a great per-minute player who would score 20 points on an inferior team, but can improve a great team. 

In Waiters' case, however, he would probably be better served to return for his junior season. While he is second on the team in scoring behind Joseph at 12.3 points per game, third in assists at 2.6 and first in steals with 2.3 while only playing 22.5 minutes per game, he doesn't have enough explosiveness at the guard position.

In this deep draft—unless you have unique explosiveness—you won't be regarded as a first-round pick without great skill. While Waiters' skills are great for a sophomore, two more years under Boeheim in the Big East could make him a lottery pick. If he enters the draft now, he will be drafted 25-40 and he won't be able to secure a roster spot at that point. 

When Waiters and Joseph do get to the NBA, neither of them will be all-stars, but they will be great backup swing-men who can provide scoring and defense.