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Syracuse men’s basketball: Judah Mintz’s dilemma

Which direction will the talented freshman go?

Virginia v Syracuse Photo by Bryan Bennett /Getty Images

Judah Mintz has a decision to make.

Not anytime soon, but it’s the elephant in the room that Syracuse Orange fans would like him to make sooner rather than later.

It’s no secret that Mintz has exceptional talent that is attractive at the next level. He’s got a natural skillset that is very hard to teach. But his game and playstyle comes with red flags and drawbacks that may sway NBA teams away from the guard.

The problem is that NBA teams, and Syracuse fans for that matter, don’t know what Judah Mintz they’re going to get.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 08 Syracuse at Florida State Photo by Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sure, you could get the Mintz that dazzled against Florida State with 16 points and six assists. You could get the Mintz that carved up the Seminoles defense with a quick first step and great body control at the trim. Or, you could get the Mintz that turned the ball over five times against Miami and Pitt, one of the many reasons why Syracuse lost those games.

It’s a unique Syracuse problem that has bled into Mintz’s game. The lack of consistency is something Orange fans are all used to, especially with Mintz’s guard partner at the top of the zone. Mintz and Joe Girard seem to play at one end of the spectrum or the other with no in between. They either completely takeover a game and hit every inconceivable shot known to man or force opportunities, leading to turnovers, bad shot selections, and missed open chances.

The thing that makes Mintz so attractive to NBA teams, however, is that quick first step, dribble-drive ability, finishing strength and body control. It’s hard to develop an aggressive driving guard at any level of basketball. When Mintz is on his game, his consistency to finish at the rim is unmatched.

Virginia v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

However, that aggressiveness is one of the red flags in his game that he needs to prove he can tame. He has a tendency to ball hog, especially in scenarios when Syracuse is trailing late in games. His hero ball mentality in those situations comes with the cost of a decrease in his finishing accuracy at the rim. Mintz’s aggressiveness also shows up in his variety in turnovers, from over-dribbling to bad passes and ill-advised drives. In a high-scoring era of NBA basketball, those turnovers are gold for opposing teams.

That’s all before we get to the distance shooting from Mintz. Of course, there are players who have proven that you don’t need a long-range game to find success in the NBA. But again, the presence of high-scoring games in the NBA means that teams are looking for players who can stretch the floor and take advantage of the three. Mintz hasn’t even gotten to double-digit triples this season yet.

One of the other arguments that you could make against Mintz as well is his performance against stronger competition. Sure, he put up 18 and 20 points against Virginia. That came at the cost of four turnovers in each game. He also had 17 against North Carolina, but that was on a very inefficient 7-19 shooting. And Mintz arguably had his worst game of the season against Miami, where he only scored three points and turned the ball over five times.

Notre Dame v Syracuse Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

All those red flags and drawbacks probably tell Syracuse fans that Mintz should return to Syracuse for a second season. However, Mintz is faced with a tough decision. His inconsistent performances means that he probably won’t go in the first round. But the reason NBA teams are considering using a second round pick on him is that innate dribble-drive ability that is so hard for NBA players, let alone college players, to defend. The added element of NIL adds another wrinkle, especially if Adam Weistman is willing to offer a contract that gives more than a second round draft slot.

This makes the last month of the season so important for Mintz. If he wants to secure a draft position, he has to show the consistency in his game that proves that NBA teams can trust him. But if the turnovers and forced opportunities arise again, Mintz is faced with a major dilemma.