Even with the commitment of Taurean Thompson, Syracuse Orange basketball's 2016-2017 roster isn't set in stone yet. But we do have a much better idea of what things are going to look like on the floor next season. The last player in 2016's ESPN 100 makes the Orange a much deeper team that gives Jim Boeheim a lot of options and lets everyone on the court play where they're supposed to be playing.
|Frank Howard||6-4||1.6 PPG, 1.8 APG||Sophomore|
|John Gillon||6-0||13.2 PPG, 3.9 APG||Senior|
Obviously, the addition of a 6-9 big man doesn't change the guard situation very much, but inserting Thompson into the rotation makes things more comfortable for everyone else on the team. Last year, Malachi Richardson was forced to play the three instead of his best position at the two-guard because of the Orange's lack of size at the bigger spots. With Thompson on the roster, Tyus Battle won't have to do the same. Sure, Jim Boeheim will put him there in some spots, but it won't be because he has to. Oh, and the Orange could still be adding Andrew White III to this list, which would make things even better.
|Tyler Roberson||6-8||8.8 PPG, 8.5 RPG||Senior|
|Tyler Lydon||6-8||10.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG||Sophomore|
Thompson does the same for Tyler Lydon as does for Tyus Battle. Lydon had to play the middle of Syracuse's 2-3 zone last season whenever Dajuan Coleman was out of the game and Jim Boeheim didn't feel like putting in the offensively inept Chino Obokoh. At 6-8 and barely over 200 pounds, the freshman had no business in there. Thompson isn't much bigger, but he at least has some experience in the middle of a zone if Syracuse needs him there, and Lydon's shooting ability can be put to better use. Instead of the power forward/center he was last year, this season Tyler Lydon can be the power forward/small forward he's supposed to be.
|Dajuan Coleman||6-9||4.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG||Senior|
Adding Thompson gives Jim Boeheim a lot of options at the bigger positions. You want the defensive anchor? Put a 7-foot-2 center or your 270-pound brick wall in the middle of the zone. You want a small, scoring lineup? Taurean Thompson and Tyler Lydon can run the court and hold the fort down on the other side of the ball. The reason why this team was so restricted in 2015-2016 is because it didn't have the options or ability at the spots that make Jim Boeheim's defense tick, and now it does.
Last season, the lack of depth up front made everyone play up a position at some point. Now, the Orange can put all of its players at their best positions, and the lineup just looks more natural. If Jim Boeheim has Tyler Lydon in the middle of the 2-3 zone or Tyus Battle playing the three it will be because he wants to put them there, not because he has to put them there.