Yesterday, news came out that Syracuse sophomore Tyler Lydon would be heading to the NBA, and almost certainly signing with an agent. It’s not much of a surprise, though it is disappointing whenever a player leaves so much eligibility on the table. The big question for the Orange, at this point, will be how they replace what Lydon brought to the table.
Now, this is no slight against Lydon – who I’m on record as being an enormous fan of – but I think it might be a little easier than some might think. Only one area of his game (his shooting) seems irreplaceable among players currently on the roster, as well as the recruits headed to Syracuse.
Between Matthew Moyer and incoming freshman Oshae Brissett, the Orange should be able to replace Lydon’s rebounding numbers from the forward position. The addition of Bourama Sidibe adds depth inside, as does a (hopefully) healthy Paschal Chukwu. The necessity of playing Lydon at center likely would have been gone next season anyway, so replacing his minutes at the five was already in the cards.
And really, it will come down to how well Moyer developed during his redshirt season, and how much he continues to improve through the summer, as well as how ready Brissett will be to step in and contribute right away.
Now, neither forward is really anything like Lydon, in terms of their games. Neither shoots like Lydon, and will do more damage around the rim and, potentially, in the midrange. I’ve said before, and I’ll say again that Moyer’s game reminds me of former Syracuse forward Ryan Blackwell, while Brissett falls somewhere between Jerami Grant and CJ Fair in terms of the kind of skill set he’s bringing to the table.
Brissett probably isn’t as skilled as Fair, but might be a little more athletic. On the other hand, he’s probably not quite as athletic as Grant, but is more advanced in terms of ballhandling and shooting at the same stage. I’m very, very high on Brissett, and expect him to be a significant contributor sooner than later.
And the Orange will need both players to make an impact next year in order to replace Lydon’s production of about 13 point and eight boards per game. Syracuse may also look to turn up the heat on Slovakian forward Marek Dolezaj, a 6-foot-9 player with good athleticism and at least the foundation of a solid jumper, who Scout.com reported earlier this year the Orange have shown some interest in.
Now, that still won’t make up for Lydon’s ability to knock down the three, and coupled with Andrew White and John Gillon both having exhausted their eligibility, Syracuse is in dire need of finding another shooter. Tyus Battle won’t be enough on his own, and you can’t count on Frank Howard to make a significant enough jump in shooting percentage. This is where Syracuse needs to go hard after the graduate transfer market, and try to find this year’s version of Andrew White.
Landing Eric Ayala and getting him to reclassify from 2018 to 2017 would also be helpful, as he’s got the ability to knock down perimeter shots, and Chris Duarte remains an option and can also get hot from deep.
It won’t be easy to replace Tyler Lydon, certainly, but it’s certainly doable for the Orange heading into next season.