USA TODAY Sports
Michael Carter-Williams is Syracuse's most talented player and will be in the NBA next season...but Brandon Triche is the one who should have the ball in his hands to close out games.
When the NBA draft comes around this summer, Michael Carter-Williams will be the first Syracuse player taken. I would even bet that he ends up being a lottery pick. 6'6" point guards who have a penchant for dishing out tons of assists are valuable commodities at any level. There will be debates about whether or not he is ready, and many SU fans will say that he should stay another year, and others will probably try to argue that we're better off without him. Neither is correct, but Carter-Williams is quickly becoming the most controversial Syracuse player this side of Scoop Jardine, and his play elicits a wide range of reactions because he can be so maddening. MCW is Syracuse's most talented player, and he may be the team's most important player - when he is playing well, I don't see a lot of teams who will be able to knock off the Orange. However, right now Brandon Triche is our best college basketball player, and he needs to have the ball in his hands to close out games.
One of Carter-Williams' best assets is his self-confidence. If not for this confidence, he doesn't knock down big shots down the stretch against Louisville and Cincinnati. However, it is also what leads to 3-17, 1-13, and 4-17 nights from the field. MCW thinks that he will hit every shot, but unfortunately that leads him to take far too many shots, especially when he's cold and heavily defended and we have a few other solid options on the roster.
Triche's lack of confidence has always been an issue for Syracuse fans. During the previous three seasons, Triche would have moments of brilliance, but he disappeared far too often. He's been much better this season, and he seems to finally believe in his abilities, but not to the hubristic extent that Carter-Williams does. Triche is not nearly as liable to become a black hole, especially when we go into the stall, where smart decision making is at a premium. The fact that he didn't touch the ball at all down the stretch when Syracuse attempted to close out Villanova is terrible.
For all of Carter-Williams' talent, he's not a very efficient scorer right now. His eFG% is 41.9%, lowest among scholarship players on the roster. Triche's is 51.5%. His true shooting percentage is 47.8%. Triche's is 55.7%. MCW's overall efficiency numbers go way up when you factor in his passing, which is excellent when he's focusing on being a distributor. As a shooter and main offensive threat, his effectiveness plummets.
Carter-Williams is an incredible, exciting basketball player, and when he plays within himself he is one of the best point guards in the nation. When he tries to become the team's go-to scorer, he is far less valuable. Before he can reach his full potential as a point guard, he needs to learn his limitations as a scorer. For better or worse, Triche has always known, or even overestimated his limitations. This season he is finally beginning to understand what a good player he is, and with that confidence he is having by far his best season in Orange. Still, Triche is far less prone to making poor decisions with the ball, and at the end of the games when we need good, safe possessions to close out a win, Triche should be the one with control of the offense.