My wife didn’t believe me at the beginning of the season when I said Tyler Lydon was the best draft prospect on this year’s Syracuse basketball team.
“Hank?” she asked.
Yup. Ya see, my wife thinks he looks like Jim Carrey’s character, Hank, from “Me, Myself & Irene.” I know…I know…I don’t really see it, either.
But aside from determining who Lydon’s doppelgänger is, she couldn’t see what made him so attractive to NBA teams. And, in defense to my wife, she does actually watch the games.
Coming into the season, Lydon was a mid- to late-lottery projection, based on which mock draft you prefer. But after scoring in double figures in just three of the Orange’s first eight games, Lydon’s stock has dropped.
While he’s still rated 17th in DraftExpress’ latest mock draft, his name is nowhere to be found on nbadraft.net’s 2017 mock draft page. Instead, he’s been pushed back to 2018 and ranks 19th there.
The lackluster scoring and clear need for added strength that presented themselves at the start of the season have given way to more inspired play of late. Lydon’s scored in double figures in five straight games, highlighted by his 29-points on 12-for-13 shooting against Georgetown and capped off by back-to-back double-doubles against St. John’s and Cornell in their last two games.
He’s upped his shooting percentage from 38 percent in those first eight games to 57 percent in the last five. Perhaps more importantly, according to Ken Pomeroy, Lydon has raised the percentage of the team’s shots that he takes when on the floor from 18.4 percent to 19.9 percent in that span. He’s asserting himself more and the results have followed.
And that may be the biggest knock on Lydon. He has all the physical tools. He’s athletic. He’s got a good basketball IQ. But, almost to a fault, he blends in too much. On a team that needs him to be a go-to option (along with Andrew White), he’s sometimes content to fit in and contribute when he can.
So, at this point, to be projected in the back end of the first round would be hopeful, if not accurate. To put his skill set up against current NBA players, his comparisons would range from Sam Dekker to Ryan Anderson to maybe Danilo Gallinari.
Dekker is the freshest comparison, as he’s in just his second season with the Houston Rockets. But, he is the same size, displays the same shooting stroke and athleticism. For now, Dekker is a solid role player in an uptempo system.
Anderson is the prototypical stretch 4 for Houston. A little less athletic, Anderson is more of a catch-and-shoot guy who can also rebound.
Gallinari may be the top end of the spectrum for what Lydon can become. Gallinari’s always had the shooting touch. But, his offense went to the next level when he bulked up and learned to put the ball on the deck to get to the basket and finish strong. If Lydon can add that to his game, he could have himself a more solid NBA career.
As someone who is more concerned with how these guys do in Syracuse uniforms than in NBA jerseys, it seems to me Lydon would still benefit from another year with the Orange. The Malachi Richardsons and Tyler Ennises of the world are cautionary tales as to what can happen when a college player leaves school too soon.
But I’m not Lydon.
His NBA draft shine has lost some of its luster since Syracuse’s Final Four run last season. His work of late has him trending upwards a bit again. With plenty of time between now and June’s draft, Lydon certainly has time to improve and write the next chapter in his basketball career.