Last season, the Syracuse men’s basketball team made 315 3-pointers, the 25th most in the country. Threes accounted for 36.5 percent of the Orange’s scoring.
Next season, SU will lose 84 percent of that production. Trevor Cooney, Michael Gbinije, Malachi Richardson and Kaleb Joseph made 264 of those 3s. The remainder belonged to Tyler Lydon (49) and Frank Howard (2).
That’s right, the Orange’s returning backcourt has made a total of two 3-pointers. Where will the Orange find its outside scoring next season?
You can start with Lydon, who led the team in 3-point shooting percentage last season at 40.5 percent. Lydon maintained this efficiency by shooting selectively. He rarely created his own shot, but consistently knocked down open shots on drive-and-kick opportunities.
With Richardson departing for the NBA, Lydon will likely start at small forward and have ample opportunity to score. Lydon already indicated an inclination to shoot more down the stretch last season. His average of 2.9 3-point attempts for the first 25 games jumped to 4.1 attempts for the final 12.
Lydon is unlikely to maintain his shooting percentage as he increases his volume. But if he can remain in the range of 37-40 percent, he will not only be an important offensive weapon but also open up space for SU’s other shooters.
One of those shooters will be the likely starting point guard, Colorado State transfer John Gillon. Gillon made 60 3s last year at a rate of 2.2 per 40 minutes, but he only shot 33.5 percent from behind the arc.
Gillon’s inefficient shooting was partially a result of increased volume. He shot 39.5 percent from distance his freshman and sophomore seasons while averaging 5.5 attempts per 40 minutes. During his junior season when his shooting percentage fell, his rate jumped to 6.6 attempts per 40 minutes and he shot about as many 3s as in the previous two seasons combined.
The Orange is unlikely to take as many 3s as last season when it had four shooters above 35 percent with volumes above 100 attempts. But if Lydon can occupy the focus of opponents’ defenses, Gillon will likely be able to return to his underclassman shooting efficiencies while maintaining a higher volume.
The last Orange who could be in the mix behind the 3-point arc is incoming freshman Tyus Battle. Battle is a big 6’6’’ guard known more for his slashing ability and mid-range jumper. He has the ability to hit outside shots but needs to improve his consistency.
During Battle’s high school career in New Jersey, he averaged between 1-2 3-pointers per game. During the 2014 AAU regular season, he shot just 29.4 percent from distance on 51 attempts. But during the Peach Jam and post season he improved to 45.2 percent giving him a combined shooting stroke of 36.6 percent — about 1 percent better than Trevor Cooney last season.
Between Lydon, Gillon and Battle, the Orange will have outside threats next season. There may even be a few surprises, such as Howard improving his stroke. Syracuse won’t be as formidable a 3-point shooting team, but it won’t be as reliant on the 3 either.
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