This year's Syracuse team is overall very balanced, possessing top-to-bottom talent and depth with a real standout scorer like Wes Johnson, Gerry McNamara, Eric Devendorf or Jonny Flynn. If you had to pick one, Canadian swingman, Kris Joseph, is the lone Syracuse returnee to make an All-Big East team in 2011 and would be the pick. But then again, we had Joseph, not big man Rick Jackson, as the leader of last year's team too. The Orange will be a top five team because of the proven talent Jim Boeheim has on the roster and Joseph will be the go-to player on this season's squad.
Joseph's minutes and production have increased in each of his three previous seasons for the Orange, where he has been blessed with good size and length and great athleticism. He was the team's leading scorer at 14.3 points and second-leading rebounder at 5.2 rebounds per game. Defensively, he uses his length and quick first step to get in the passing lanes and come up with deflections, steals and transition opportunities to go the other way. His 3-point mark saw a huge increase from the 22 percent mark he shot in 2009-10, ballooning all the way up to 36.6 percent on 123 attempts last season. With Syracuse's inability to score from the perimeter at times last season, defenses were able to collapse on Rick Jackson and take away his scoring opportunities inside and took away Joseph's slashing lanes. His development as a continued outside threat will not only be important for Syracuse's success, but also his own personal success as Joseph has the abilities to be a late-first-round pick if he can put it all together in his final season for the Orange.