This roundtable begins with an assumption. One you’re not necessarily compelled to make.
A healthy Elijah Hughes should lead the Syracuse Orange in scoring. He shot 37 percent from three and attempted them with enough volume to surpass Oshae Brissett in scoring by 43 points. His seniority and skillset bode well for that progression continuing if he converts efficiently.
The Orange took more threes than twos in Italy. When Hughes played 36 minutes in the Varese game, he outscored Buddy Boeheim and Brycen Goodine by seven. Hughes may not lead SU in every game, but the team’s personnel and the steady minutes he’ll receive should convert into the most points on the team.
That team currently appears to be a team of equal opportunity. If someone could cement that level of time on the floor, they could approach him. In the past, Orange players who scored less than a teammates in the previous season leaped them the next. Michael Gbinije passed Trevor Cooney in 2015-16. Rakeem Christmas leaped from fifth on the Orange to first the year prior.
Those were veterans entering their own though. While there’s an outside chance Jalen Carey explodes as a starter, his three-point shot doesn’t inspire enough confidence to place him ahead of Hughes. Quincy Guerrier could start, but in rotation with others in the front court.
Only Hughes seems likely to play entire games on this roster. It’ll be different for him. The ball will fall in his hands to create more. Defenses will contest his shots without extra attention paid to Tyus Battle and Brissett. But the formula feels consistent: back-door cuts, threes off the catch from Carey and euro-stepping through traffic to the rim.
Feel free to disagree, but for the sake of this roundtable, I’ll ask this question: who will follow-up Hughes in the scoring hierarchy?
Bobby Manning: Quincy Guerrier and Jalen Carey
Guerrier provided some of the most encouraging developments of anything we saw in Italy. His downhill charges to the net, activity on the boards and close-range attempts allowed him to approach double-figure scoring in each game. His three-point shot does not appear to be substantial in his offensive package, but his efficient shot selection inside could favor consistency.
The math bodes well for Buddy Boeheim to follow him, if he receives consistent run and only shoots threes as he has so far in a Syracuse uniform. I favor Carey though, in spite of his non-existent three-point stroke and brutal struggles last season.
Syracuse is built to surround him with shooters, freeing him on drives and the in-between game that propelled him to scoring outbursts at MSG. He struggled in Greece, then dropped an empty two-point performance to open Italy. After that, he shot over 50% for the rest of the trip. Many guards bounced back after difficult freshmen seasons in this system, now the point role is Carey’s to lose.
Austin Lamb: Buddy Boeheim and Guerrier
This year’s team should be deeper and feature more ball movement and balanced scoring than recent seasons. But as long as Jim Boeheim continues to run an isolation-heavy offense that favors players who can create their own shots, the majority of Syracuse’s scoring will come from the backcourt and wing players.
The only look we’ve gotten so far at this year’s team was the four exhibition games in Italy last month, where Elijah Hughes lead the Orange in scoring, followed by Buddy Boeheim, Quincy Guerrier, Jalen Carey, and Joe Girard, all averaging double digits. This season should follow a similar order. I think Buddy Boeheim will average second most to Hughes, followed by Guerrier and then Dolezaj (who didn’t play in Italy). For Carey to be fourth in scoring this season, he’d have to show improved shooting, as he won’t be able to rely on the same athletic advantage that he enjoyed in Italy.
James Szuba: Guerrier and Boeheim
Hughes is the obvious candidate to lead the team in scoring and barring anything unforeseen, it shouldn’t really be close. After him though, Guerrier is probably the best candidate for second-leading scorer given that he’ll probably log the most minutes and that he’s really, really good. Guerrier can get to the rim and finish well in traffic and he can shoot it decent enough from range to keep the defense honest. He should be good in the open floor and can create opportunities for himself on the offensive glass.
Beyond that, you could make the case for numerous players here as the third-leading scorer but I’m going to go with Buddy Boeheim. We all know he can shoot the ball from distance, but I think Buddy is ready to take the next step and pick up where he left off in the ACC Tournament. On top of hitting from three, Buddy was able to get to his spot off the dribble a bit and hit the middy and floater. He even got on the glass in the game against Pitt. Buddy could log the most minutes at guard this season, too, so that’s a nice tailwind for his point total.
Kevin Wall: Guerrier and Carey
After Hughes I think there will be a few Syracuse players vying for these spots but I think Guerrier’s rebounding will allow him to score on nights when his shot isn’t falling. Teams will certainly focus on Hughes and Buddy so Quincy should find himself with opportunities as a result.
Speaking of Buddy I considered him and Marek Dolezaj as my choices for the third-leading scorer but if the Orange are going to play faster Carey should have opportunities in transition. As with Guerrier with defenses focusing on Elijah and Buddy on the perimeter could create the driving lanes for Jalen to thrive even if his outside shot is still inconsistent.
What about you? Who do you see leading the 2019-20 team in scoring? Drop a comment below and join in on the discussion.