Syracuse men’s basketball: Judah Mintz currently projected as second-round pick in NBA Draft

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With the NBA Draft lottery past us, we’re one step closer to figuring out the future for Syracuse Orange guard Judah Mintz.

Mintz averaged 16.3 points per game, 2.3 rebounds per game, 4.6 assists per game, and 1.8 steals per game in his lone season with the Orange men’s basketball team. Now as he participates in the NBA Combine, he finds himself projected as a late-second round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft per the latest wave of mock drafts.

The big question up in the air as of this point is figuring out whether Mintz decides to stay in the draft or return to the Orange for his sophomore season. If he opts for the former, the only question that should be asked is what is Mintz’s value to an NBA team and where could he ultimately end up.

What’s clear: Mintz’s value fluctuates pretty substantially based on where you look.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Here are some of the latest updated mock drafts following Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery and where Mintz is projected to be selected in this year’s draft:

The Athletic: 53rd pick (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Yahoo! Sports: 55th pick (Indiana Pacers)

Jonathan Givony (ESPN): 55th pick (Indiana Pacers)

Jonathan Wasserman (Bleacher Report): 45th pick (Memphis Grizzlies)

Wasserman’s projection, to date, remains the most intriguing. On Monday, Wasserman ranked Mintz 41st on his list Big Board of best prospects heading into the NBA Draft Combine. There’s clearly an interest for Mintz towards the middle-to-late second round range and NBA teams will have greater perspective on his game once he gets through this year’s combine. If selected this year, he’ll become the first member of the Orange selected in the NBA Draft since forward Elijah Hughes in 2020.

Mintz is among several notable prospects who will compete with and against each other in scrimmages on Wednesday and Thursday. These will be critical opportunities for Mintz to prove what NBA skills he can bring to the table. With the ball in his hands, can he still maintain his strengths as a inside scorer and playmaker against NBA-caliber defenses? On Wednesday, Mintz flashed that potential with a nine-point, seven-assist performance on 3/3 shooting in nearly 18 minutes of action.

As Wasserman pointed out on Monday, he won’t be the go-to initiator or main ball handler at times during the scrimmages like he was with the Orange. How will he adapt to more of an off-ball role?

That’s where the biggest question about Mintz’s skill set comes into play: the outside shooting.

Mintz brings an intriguing floor to a team given his speed, willingness to attack the basket, improvement as a playmaker, and defensive potential which he flashed over the course of this past season. Offensively, he was already a willing and mostly-successful in the “I’m going to make a bee-line for the basket and there’s nothing you can do to stop me” scenarios. That allowed Mintz to extend his range over the course of this season, showing much improvement as a pull-up mid-range shooter.

The three-point shot, however, remains a big question mark for NBA scouts.

Mintz shot 30.1% from three on 66 total attempts, or 2.1 attempts per game, in 2022-2023. To be fair to Mintz, he did shoot 11/21 (53%) in the Orange’s final nine games. If you subtract his poor performance during Syracuse’s embarrassing home loss to Georgia Tech (totally justifiable if you don’t/choose not to remember this game), Mintz ended the season shooting 10/13 from three in Syracuse’s final seven games.

In theory, Mintz possesses enough potential from the outside to at least be a capable long-range shooter. The reality, however, is that the jumper still needs work. Even with the late-season hot shooting, he was still averaging 2.3 attempts per game in the Orange’s final nine games. That could spell some trouble if he doesn’t have the ball in his hands or is next to another ball-dominant guard.

That’s not to say their isn’t a chance at improvement in the right system. Mintz’s most impressive asset in 2022-2023 was his improvement over the course of the season once play against the ACC really kicked off. Mintz saw slight bumps in points, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage once he became better accustomed to college ball.

You also can’t discount Mintz’s defense, which looked notably better outside of looking at the steals per game numbers. Individually, he held his own on the perimeter and prevented fewer opponents from slashing into the paint. His horizontal movement improved to cut off driving lanes, as did his activity at the top of the key. Especially during the combine, his individual defense could shine much more against other notable prospects and outside of Syracuse’s defensive context, where Mintz rarely shined as an individual defender in former coach Boeheim’s 2-3 zone.

Following the combine, the next target date to watch for is May 31 at 11:59 p.m. That will be the last opportunity for Mintz to opt out of the draft and maintain his eligibility to return with the Orange for his sophomore season.

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