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Kris Joseph: First Team All-American?

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

As October approaches, the first signs of the season approaching are coming. This week, we’ve already seen the initial announcement about Midnight Madness and some news on Fab Melo’s never-ending court case. There was also Tuesday’s announcement that the Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook named Kris Joseph to its Preseason All-American team. This surprised many fans, even myself.

I was hoping for big things after Joseph’s terrific turn as sixth man in 2009-10 and the transition was thought to be seamless heading into the 2010-11 season when Wes Johnson jumped to the NBA. Although Joseph led the team in scoring last season and added a three-pointer to his arsenal, he didn’t shoot the ball as accurately as he did in his sophomore year (both from the field as well as the line) and his rebounding numbers took a dip as well. As a result, the hype cooled and the result is the kind of skepticism that leaves me raising a brow at the idea of Joseph being one of the nation’s five best players.

While one could look at Joseph’s increase in playing time the last two seasons, see a drop-off in shooting percentage and draw the conclusion that the bigger workload hindered his performance, that isn’t altogether the case. One thing I found interesting when doing research for this post was that Joseph’s effective field goal percentage* in the 16 games last season when he played at least 35 minutes was 6% better than the mark in the 18 games when he played fewer than 35 minutes.

*If you’re unfamiliar with the stat, effective field goal percentage is a very similar calculation to the traditional field goal percentage, but it accounts for the difference in value between a made three-pointer and a made two-point shot.

That kind of performance under such a high demand for stamina is one thing that leads me to believe that Joseph can make the leap many thought he would this time last season. There’s a chance that Jim Boeheim will lean on Joseph to stay on the court even more than his 32 minutes per game in his junior campaign. Playing an offensive stud like Hakim Warrick, Gerry McNamara or Jonny Flynn for as long as they can handle it physically is a tradition in Boeheim’s system. The preparation for Joseph taking on that kind of playing time is indicative in the reports that his summer was spent with an emphasis on conditioning over playing, unlike the cases of Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine, who participated in skills academies and international competition.

I’d be surprised if any additional publications proclaim Kris Joseph as a first-team All-American. The prospects of the NBA locking out  kept a big chunk of young talent in college, in addition to the more experienced talent already in the game. Joseph’s performance this season might be the biggest factor in determining just how far the Orange go in 2012, but if he delivers, he has a decent shot at getting the individual accolades players dream of. At the end of September, that’s one big if.

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