A new Syracuse Orange men’s basketball season is on the horizon. Around the country, the best players in the sport toil in preparation. Hours in the gym and buckets of sweat have all been sacrificed in pursuit of a chance to go Dancing.
It’s the time of year when standouts are recognized. Those of whom much is expected are targeted for awards that bear names like Wooden, Cousy and West. Syracuse star Elijah Hughes is among them, on the watch list for the Julius Erving Award for best college small forward. ESPN’s Andy Katz named Hughes a top 10 player in the ACC. Strong praise for a small-town kid and mid-major transfer.
All of these accolades, though, pale in comparison to the crown jewel. A distinction given to all the greats, past and present. The type of recognition that could only come from a website named after Troy Nunes. Without further ado, the 2019 TNIAAM All-Outlandish Comparison ™ Team.
PG - Jalen Carey
Outlandish Comparison: Russell Westbrook
Undersized scoring guard playing point? Check. Blazing speed and elite athleticism? Check. Tendency to play out of control? Double check. Carey won’t be allowed to dominate the ball nearly as much as Brodie does. His quicks, though, strike fear in the hearts of opponents, much like Russ.
SG – Buddy Boeheim
Outlandish Comparison: Klay Thompson
A sharpshooter with a pure stroke that can go from snooze to sizzle any minute, Buddy runs the floor with the three in mind. He’s smart defender, making up for lack of size and athleticism. And, hell, even G-Mac sees the comparison. Hard to argue against that.
SF – Elijah Hughes
Outlandish Comparison: Paul George
Versatile forwards who are deadly from deep. Hughes’ work inside is underrated and, like George, he’s a better defender than he gets credit for. PG13 took the road less traveled through Fresno State to stardom. Hughes is a journeyman as well, proving doubters wrong a bucket and a block at a time.
PF – Quincy Guerrier
Outlandish Comparison: Kawhi Leonard
First and foremost: the eclectic hairstyles. Old school cornrows for Kawhi and… whatever that is on top of Guerrier’s head. For the rest, it’s all in the potential. Guerrier at 20 has a body like Kawhi has as a pro. Q’s interior work in Italy was well documented. It’s not hard to see a potential freshman line similar to what The Claw put up his first year at San Diego State (12.7 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 52% 2pt FG, 21% 3ptFG).
C – Bourama Sidibe
Outlandish Comparison: Hakeem Olajuwon
Perhaps moving on from “outlandish” comparison to “extraterrestrial”, both are former soccer players with a natural feel for the game. That helps to make up for a late start to formal coaching. Like The Dream, Sidibe is comfortable facing the rim, a rarity for young bigs. It’s going to be tough to find a catchy nickname that rhymes with “Sidibe”.
F – Marek Dolezaj
Outlandish Comparison: Draymond Green
Swiss-army forward that can make plays just as well as any point guard. A capable, if rare, three point shooter. If Syracuse truly does play man, Dolezaj is able to defend multiple frontcourt positions. Also likely to inadvertently kick an opponent in the groin due to the unrestrained hustle he exhibits.
G – Brycen Goodine
Outlandish Comparison: Michael Carter-Williams
Perhaps not so outlandish, as many have made the comparison already. MCW DID essentially beat No. 1 seed Indiana single handedly in 2013, a feat Goodine would be hard pressed to replicate. Still, by all accounts, Goodine shares the same vision and athleticism in addition to sweet deep ball.
G – Joe Girard III
Outlandish Comparison: Gerry McNamara
Another more “landish” comparison that practically writes itself. The best way to describe both is as pure gamers. They might not look the part but both will light it up on one end and get after it defensively on the other. Underdog might not be the word for them, but “underrated champions” would apply. Odds are Jim Boeheim curses out a reporter defending JG3 at some point.
G –Howard Washington
Outlandish Comparison – Steph Curry
At once the most and least outlandish comparison. Outlandish in that Curry is an NBA champion, MVP and sure fire Hall of Famer, where Washington seems unlikely to see the court much for Jim Boeheim this season. Both are slight lead guards with quick triggers. What most closely links them, though, is perseverance. Curry has to shrug off doubters even as he was setting college basketball on fire. His NBA career was the same as early injury limited him.
Washington’s struggles have been very different, but the approach is the same; keep grinding. Get better every day to be prepared for when your moment arrives. Outlandish comparison or not, all these players share a love of the game. In the end, what they share in common is much greater than what sets them apart.
Just how outlandish are these comparisons? Let us know in the comments. And, if you like your Orange sports commentary a little salty, search @Surlycuse on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.