The NBA draft is a couple months away and the Syracuse Orange have four players up for selection. Some have left early and others are only going because the NCAA says they're not allowed to play anymore. Drafting the Orangewill follow Scoop, KJ, Fab and Dion as they prepare for the draft and the next phase of their basketball careers.
Position: Small Forward
Vertical Leap: not measured
The Statistical (2011-12 season)
Path to the Draft: KJ remains in Syracuse while he finishes his degree and is working out in the Melo Center with other former Orange players. After graduation, he plans to train in Atlanta, where is agent is based. KJ also plans on attending the NBA's pre-draft combine in Chicago. Like his fellow senior Scoop Jardine, declined an invitation to the Portsmouth Invitational.
Pro prospects: If Scoop was the undisputed leader of this past season's Syracuse team, Kris Joseph wasn't far behind. The two seniors led the Orange to a record breaking regular season that was defined by steady, controlled play. Opinions of KJ's draft stock vary wildy. Some rank him in among the top 20 graduating seniors and the 52nd best overall prospect. This would place him in the late second round of the draft. Other pundits rank him in the top 10 of graduating seniors and believe that only a refined shooting stroke separates Joseph from likely top 10 pick Harrison Barnes.
Analysis: Kris Joseph has been an enigma his entire career at Syracuse. He showed enough talent to get some burn as a true freshman, and was an important role player off the bench for a phenomenal Syracuse team as a sophomore, but has since failed to transform into the game-changing player that many thought be could be. Perhaps he suffered from the success of one-year-wonder Wesley Johnson, the player most named in reference to KJ's potential. Yet, for a variety of reasons, the kid from Montreal with the Gervin-esque game never quite made "the leap". True, he leaves Syracuse as the program's all-time winningest player, but it could be argued that he was mostly along for the ride rather than a key factor in many of those wins. Even when it was "his" team, he often performed like a role-player.
It's this factor that could doom Joseph's NBA hopes. He passes the eyeball test easily. He has ideal size and athleticism for a small forward. He already has a repertoire of NBA ready moves. The only real shortcomings in his game are a handle that's a little too loose and a jump shot that's a little too inconsistent. Nothing that hours spent in the gym can't fix. KJ's primary issue seems to be desire, intensity. This isn't to say he doesn't play or practice hard. Only that he always seems like he's playing at three-quarters speed. Playing under control is a good thing. Playing without a sense of urgency is another. This attitude even comes across off the court, where he's on the record as saying, "It’s something I’ve wanted, to play professionally, anywhere – overseas or the NBA – where I could make it my job." Joseph needs to realize that no one is going to hand him a spot on an NBA roster. He needs to realize that therewill always be a dozen other guys just like him that want the same thing he does. If the NBA is is true goal, he needs to make that his only focus and not be content to settle for a job anywhere he can get one. If he can't find that focus, he might as well skip the draft altogether and just head staight overseas, because that's the only place he'll end up.
Of course, there are physical attributes that he needs to display as well. KJ is going to be called for workouts and he's going to be in the Summer League, most likely as a second round pick rather than an undrafted free-agent. He needs to shoot and defend well there in order to make the cut for an NBA squad. But most of all, he needs to show that he's the guy that's going to give that little bit extra. That's going to be the difference between seeing his NBA dream come to fruition and a trip overseas.