Syracuse Orange guard Tyus Battle declared for the NBA Draft today, but won’t hire an agent. As long as he remains unrepresented, that means May 30 is the date we’ll know whether or not he’s back at SU. The NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 11. However, because the NCAA is the NCAA, its deadline is earlier on May 30 (10 days after the NBA Draft combine wraps up).
Battle joins 97 other NCAA players without representation who will potentially participate in the draft combine with the option to go back to their teams. It runs from May 16-20.
In 2016, thanks to a sweeping change, college basketball players were permitted to declare for the draft without an agent. Previously, players like Battle committed to a guessing game, pledging to the league within days of the NCAA Championship game.
Former Syracuse star Jonny Flynn, under old rules in 2009, also reached the Sweet 16 in his sophomore season. The Orange lost to Oklahoma on March 27 and he declared by April 9. Battle was able to wait from March 23 to April 20. He still had two days before his deadline.
Over that time, he was able to learn Oshae Brissett will remain at school without testing the waters himself, see Darius Bazley de-commit and watch numerous mock drafts shift him between the first and second rounds.
However, that line of players vying for selections is massive, as players hope to be among the first 30 picks to secure the guaranteed two years of salary of over $1 million (with two more years of team options) that come with it. Beyond that, they’ll likely earning a training camp bonus, a summer league appearance and possibly a two-way contract. Getting selected in the second-round guarantees nothing.
The range Battle would likely be drafted in, beyond the 20th pick somewhere, is where the mocks matter less. Teams begin shifting based on need and winning organizations are selecting for the most part, with room for development. The final six picks of this year’s first-round are a solid mix between contenders (76ers, Warriors, Celtics) and rebuilders (Lakers, Nets, Hawks) that are there via previous swaps.
Through the combine process, Battle can work out for any team once, and that’s where he’d hear whether or not individual GMs will commit to him as a first-round pick, like Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon most recently before him.
Currently Sporting News, Sports Illustrated (47th in March’s Big Board) and Bleacher Report exclude Battle from the first round, while ESPN’s Jonathan Givony slated him at 29th (Givony also broke the Battle news today),
None of that matters if one team is enamored by Battle at the end of the May, yet several factors are working for and against him.
For one, there are an abundance of guard options both within the league and in this year’s draft — 14 of the top 30 in Tankathon’s big board play that position. The next five players listed do too, and with play-making a highly-valued trait, players beyond the guard position are becoming more capable of creating for themselves and others.
That’s a concern given that John Gillon and Frank Howard primarily manned the ball in Battle’s two seasons. There’s nothing wrong with being a spot-up shooter, cutter and driver, all of which Battle are capable of. But his 40-percent field goal percentage and 30-percent three-point stroke through conference play with a minus-2.3 net rating won’t woo numbers evaluators.
Then there’s the everlasting concern that Battle spent two years in the 2-3 zone, and now must switch to man defense. That concern likely won’t be as pressing for him, given his sensational physicality at 6’6” and 205 pounds he figures to fit in traditional and smaller lineups where positions have disappeared in the modern NBA.
The key for him will be his propensity to switch. His hands, communication and perimeter capabilities flashed in the Orange’s scheme, but nobody will know his pick-and-roll capabilities until he’s at the combine. His scoring total, just under 20 points per game, won’t shine as brightly next to 39 minutes per night.
Working in Battle’s favor is his age (20 years old), which is still in the range where a team could commit to building him up over multiple years well before his physical prime hits. He was definitively SU’s lifeblood in an offense that didn’t do much around him to boost his status, there are big shots in vital games on his resume as well as slick dribble moves to create space for himself.
In an offense with absolutely no spacing, he still generated the third-most free throw attempts in the ACC. For all the talk of three-point shooting, free throws still hold immense value in the efficiency-obsessed NBA’s eyes.
There’s no telling who will value what in Battle’s game, but there’s no doubt that this is the right time for him to find out.
To salvage hope for SU fans, his family had expressed hope he’d graduate from college and it’s clear he’s spoken extensively with Jim Boeheim about his decision too, according to Syracuse.com. No matter what happens, good luck to Tyus here as he’ll attempt to stand out next month.