Over the weekend, Tyus Battle finished his NBA combine workout, coming away with mixed results.
On the plus side, in his second day of scrimmages, Battle scored 12 points on 3-5 shooting, a day after he went 1-5 for three points. Battle also scored a solid physical test, scoring the best time in the shuttle run, while placing at least median or higher in the rest of the categories.
All that amounts to Battle still being projected where he was prior to coming to the combine: somewhere between a late first round and early second round pick.
Battle now has until May 30 to decide whether he will return to Syracuse for his junior season.
There are plenty of factors for Battle to sort through as he prepares to make one of the biggest decisions of his life. Here are some of the factors I’d be considering if I were him:
WEAK 2019 DRAFT
Most prognosticators have this year’s draft class as a stronger class than the following year. Prospects like DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley are drawing Tim Duncan and Chris Bosh-like comparisons. The 2019 projections are weaker at the moment.
That said, there’s plenty of time between now and the 2019 Draft, and a player like Trae Young, who is a consensus top-10 pick, wasn’t considered among the 20 best players of his class coming out of high school.
THE LATER YOU GO, THE LATER YOU GO
Among the top 20 prospects in this year’s class, there are approximately 13 freshmen, three sophomores, two international players and two juniors (Mikal Bridges and Khyri Thomas).
The numbers look even worse for older players when you go through the last 5 years. About one upperclassmen on average has been drafted in the top 10. For the same time period, there were a total of 28 freshmen and eight sophomores drafted.
Take a look at the average number picked per class, per year, for the last five years:
- Freshmen: 3.4
- Sophomores: 2.2
- Juniors: 1.0
- Senors: 1.4
The bottom line is this: Historically, older players get drafted lower.
WHAT DOES BATTLE NEED TO IMPROVE?
Battle was one of only three offensive options this past season, and had to carry SU’s offensive load on many nights. In other words, this was an opportunity to showcase his ability to be the primary offensive option, and for the most part, it worked out well for Battle.
His 19.2 points per game were the highest average since Hakim Warrick back in 2005. What else can Battle really do to improve his stock at this point?
To be sure, Battle can become more efficient, as he shot just 39.9 percent from the field and 32.2 percent from downtown. That would almost certainly happen with a team next year that will have more offensive firepower.
But would an improvement in those numbers truly bump his stock from a fringe first round pick in this year’s draft to a definite pick in 2019?
It seems unlikely, but perhaps it is a risk worth taking.