Now that the season is officially over, it's time to look at the draft prospects of the departing Orange players. Check back for updates as the 2013 NBA Draft draws closer.
Player: James Southerland
Position: Small forward
Weight: 215 lbs
2012-13 Stats: 13.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.5 BPG.
Scouting Report: James Southerland and his fellow senior, Brandon Triche, share much more in common than the fact that they're both leaving the Syracuse Orange behind as they pursue their NBA dreams. Both were enigmatic to the end. Though Southerland's senior campaign was a break out year compared to the three before it, he was still a feast or famine type of player. Sometimes he would morph into the super hero, JSizzle(TM), and set the nets on fire (9 threes @ Arkansas, 19 threes in 4 BET games). Other times, he'd completely disappear (0/8 @ G'Town, 1/5 vs. Indiana). Much like Triche, consistency is going to be the key to Southerland's NBA prospects.
Pros: Clearly, it's Southie's shooting. While most would classify him as a streak shooter, and rightly so, when he's on, he's really on. And he showed on several occasions that he has what basketball types like to call "in the gym" range, so the deeper NBA three point line won't be an issue for him. JSizzle's stroke is pure and he has a quick release, so getting his shot off in the NBA shouldn't be an issue, especially since he's likely to get more wide open looks courtesy of NBA caliber play makers (FWIW, most of Michael Carter-Williams assists were to one James Southerland).
And perhaps an overlooked aspect is Southie's athleticism. One TNIAAM reader aptly commented that Southerland is a guy who can win both a 3pt shooting and a dunk contest. While Southerland isn't the type of player to slash to the hoop or do damage on the block, he's just as good at finishing a back door lob or fast break alley-oop at the rim as he is launching from 25 feet. That combination is bound to catch a few eyes.
Cons: For as much as Syracuse's size was talked about as an advantage during the college season, it often comes up as a disadvantage in draft evaluations. Again, like Triche, Southerland is a tweener. He doesn't really have the skill set to play small forward in the NBA, but he's also a bit undersized to play the kind of stretch power forward that has taken over the NBA of late. The stretch 4's we see nowadays are in the 6'10" range and Southerland doesn't quite measure up to that. And, he's skinny. 215 is slight for even a SG. He'd be at a serious disadvantage against pretty much any NBA forward.
And then there's consistency and effort. The primary reason Southerland didn't see a ton of action his first three years in Syracuse was because he let offensive struggles affect his defensive effort. A player of his size and athleticism should have locked down the wing of the 2-3. He was much better this past season, though still prone to lapses. Fringe NBA prospects almost always work their way onto rosters through defense. James has some ability. He needs to be consistently willing.
Pro Comparison: A shorter Steve Novak, though I think Southerland has potential to be better on defense than Novak in every single category. You could insert any number of 3pt specialists and stretch 4's here, but I use Novak because he's positive proof that, even if you bring nothing else to the table but 40+% 3pt shooting, there's a place for you on the right team.
Draft Prospects: Southie's shooting will get him a chance. Guys with height, range and a stroke like Southerland's will always get a look. Whether or not it's enough to get him drafted is yet to be seen. He would help himself greatly if he could return to his Big East Tournament shooting form. JSizzle(TM) makes an NBA roster relatively easily. James Southerland has a tougher road.