In the first of a multi-part series, editorial staff of The Juice Online will be discussing the Syracuse basketball team. The first discussion centers around the futures of Dion Waiters and Fab Melo.
Wesley Cheng: Saugat, there’s going to be a lot of turnover on this team. Obviously, Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine are out of eligibility and Dion Waiters just declared for the NBA. Fab Melo isn’t far behind. Did Dion make the right decision? Should Fab make the jump?
Saugat Sen: I don’t think either of them are ready. With Fab, he has not been playing basketball for that long, and clearly was not ready to even play at the college level last year. This year he improved tremendously, won Big East Defensive Player of the Year, but Syracuse fans know he is still raw in many areas. But I also don’t know if Fab has other options because of the reported academic issues. What do you think?
WC: Fab clearly needs another year. He needs to develop a low post game, which would round him into a true NBA prospect. Right now, all of his points were coming on lobs or putbacks. He started to show he could hit a jumper, but he didn’t have many moves in the post he could be reliable on. But, I agree. The reality is, with his reported academic issues, he may have no choice. Do you think Waiters made the right decision to jump?
SS: I don’t think so. I think if he comes back, starts for Syracuse, they are a Top 5 team he will get even more playing time, and will be the star of the team. He can take one from the book of Jonny Flynn and wait one year, and go Top 10 in the next year. Also, this years draft is stacked since so many players came back because of the lockout. He is only projected to go 20 right now by NBADraft.net.
WC: Here’s where I disagree with you. I think out of the two, Dion has less of a skill set to develop. Other than being a little more consistent with his jumper, he’s NBA ready. He can drive and finish and is a good enough passer to be an NBA combo guard.
SS: That’s true. My only issue is that he can increase his draft stock simply by getting more playing time, and waiting out this draft, which you have to agree, is stacked with talent. Purely from a monetary standpoint, it will help him to stay another year.
WC: Perhaps. But I’m not sure if he comes back that Syracuse is the top 5 team that you’re talking about. They’re not going to have the senior leadership or depth that they had this year and there may be less attention on the Syracuse team next year. And there’s obviously always the risk of injury, especially for a guy that plays the slashing style that Waiters has.
SS: That is true. Injury is always something that you have to worry about. But I do think this team has the talent to be Top 5. With Rakeem Christmas, CJ Fair, DaJuan Coleman and possibly even Noels. This team is stacked. Maybe not as stacked as this year’s, but I would dare to say, better offensively. With Waiters, that is. Who do you think will be more successful in the NBA? Waiters or Melo?
WC: Melo has a higher ceiling, but Waiters has the opportunity to contribute right away. If Melo develops a low post game, he can be a star.
SS: Yes, especially with that touch Melo has on his jumper. But he is definitely going to struggle professionally for a couple of years. We saw quicker centers with better footwork just have a field day around Melo. In the NBA he will be up against quicker and stronger centers.
WC: Exactly. And as we stated earlier, another year of college would help that. On the other hand, I think Waiters could contribute right away.
SS: That’s true. I have heard people compare him to D-Wade. I don’t think his jumper is as good, but he definitely has the speed. But hey, let’s hope they both come back (Waiters still hasn’t signed with an agent) and Syracuse is a No. 1 team from start to finish!
WC: We can all dream!