Fans of the Syracuse Orange were dealt a pretty harsh blow when Tyler Ennis decided to throw his name into the NBA Draft. It wasn’t surprising, but it was a nut shot nonetheless. So now Orange fans are terrified of the uncertainty at point guard heading into next season. Well, Kaleb Joseph is here to try to alleviate your fears, Orange faithful.
Ranked No. 50 in the ESPN Top 100, Joseph will be given the ball from day one as, for now, the only true point guard on the Syracuse roster. Hmm, a freshman point guard being the only true floor general. This sounds oddly familiar. Of course despite the fact that Joseph will be wet behind the ears and will almost certainly log upwards of 30 minutes per game next season, that’s kind of where the similarities between he and Ennis begin and end.
The native of Nashua, New Hampshire brings a different skill set to the table, and at 6-foot-3 is an explosive athlete, with exceptional quickness. He’s not as steady as Ennis, but Orange fans can count on Joseph’s speed and leaping ability leading to a brisker pace on offense. Basically, you can take it to the bank that Joseph will try to push the ball a lot more than Ennis ever did. In a way, that’s really the biggest difference between Ennis and Joseph. Ennis was probably better suited to a halfcourt offense, whereas over recent years Syracuse has done most of its damage in an uptempo setting, creating turnovers and converting them into breakaway points.
That’s not to say Ennis was without that capability; quite the contrary. He is quicker than he ever got credit for, but he was also a lot more cautious with the ball than his predecessor, Michael Carter-Williams, as well as his successor, Kaleb Joseph. Expect Joseph to turn the ball over considerably more than Ennis, a byproduct of pushing the tempo and trying to get out in the open floor.
If you’ve never seen Joseph play, we’ve already touched on what an explosive athlete he is. He’s also every bit of 6-foot-3, with a frame that could easily put on some more muscle. By the time he’s done at Syracuse, he should be up around the 190 range. He’s also got a solid shooting stroke and is especially dangerous in the midrange, though where he really thrives is in penetrating the paint and finishing around the rim. He’s still got to extend his range and become a more consistent three point shooter, but the tools are there and, in all likelihood, he won’t be any less of a threat from beyond the arc than Ennis was this season.
Another area he will probably need to work on is tightening his handle a bit, as he tends to let the ball get out away from his body – particularly on spin moves. In a lot of ways, his handle will probably remind long time Syracuse fans of Pearl Washington, who always seemed like he was about to lose control of the ball but somehow managed to pull off dazzling move after dazzling move as he sliced his way through the opposition. He’s also got a reputation for being a tremendous on the ball defender.
One thing Syracuse fans won’t need to worry about is a lack of work ethic. Joseph has been described as a gym rat, always striving for perfection, and a desire to win and make both himself and his teammates better. Another shared trait between Ennis and Joseph is the fact that, by all accounts, he owns an equally cool court demeanor and rarely gets rattled. As he told the Post-Standard recently, “I like the pressure.”
But hey, why don’t you check him out for yourself in the video below? It’s time to say hello to Kaleb Joseph, because you’ll be getting to know him in a hurry when basketball season rolls around.