3 reasons why Oshae Brissett is so valuable to Syracuse Basketball

In an interview this week with TSN Radio, forward Oshae Brissett, a rising sophomore, mentioned that he’s likely to return to college for at least one more season.

I haven’t fully made the decision. But right now I’m leaning more toward coming back to school. I feel like another year of development will really help me out. There’s no rush to get into the league.

Syracuse snuck into the NCAA Tournament — only to stun everyone but themselves with a run to the Sweet 16. Building off that, there’s a lot to like with Syracuse’s squad for 2018-19 — even after 5-star Darius Bazley’s transformative decision to skip college and enter the G League.

However, if Brissett and/or Tyus Battle, decided to enter the draft — and remain in it — then the paradigm on Syracuse basketball would alter, greatly. A few weeks ago, I detailed Battle’s importance to the Orange; he’s the ACC’s Iron Man.

Now, let’s take a look at what Brissett accomplished in his first season in the dome, and if he went pro, who would have to pick up the slack.


Little bit of this, little bit of that

Despite being just a freshman, Osahe Brissett played heavy minutes, too, like Battle and Frank Howard. Brissett participated in 94.1 percent of Syracuse’s available minutes (95.4 percent in ACC games) — a rate that ranks No. 7 in the nation, per KenPom. He played 40-plus minutes in 20 of Syracuse’s 37 games this season.

Within that high-dosage of game action, Brissett was also a high-usage player. He ranked third on Syracuse’s roster with a usage rate that hovered close to 23 percent.

According to Sports Reference, Brissett is just the 14th ACC freshman since the 2009-10 season to play at least 1,000 minutes and post a usage rate above 22 percent. Duke’s Marvin Bagley was the only other rookie in the league this season to hit those benchmarks, too.

Nearly 36 percent of Brissett’s possessions (223 total) this season were of the spot-up variety, per Synergy Sports. Brissett, who had 89 percent of his three-pointers assisted on, shot 32.8 percent (44 eFG%) on these attempts, and scored 0.92 points per possession.

That’s not wildly efficient; however, the raw production is still pretty impressive. According to Synergy, Brissett was one of just 12 Division I players to score at least 200 points on spot-up possessions. For his efforts, Brissett was named to the ACC’s All-Rookie team.

If he left, that’s a lot of productivity headed out the door; plus, that volume of reps is incredibly value for a young player. Brissett could built off that in a big sophomore season.


Defense, from the back line

With Battle and Howard spearheading the top of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, and 7-foot shot-blocker Paschal Chukwu patrolling the paint, Brissett was omnipresent on the back line. It’s an important role in the zone, and requires a combination of quicks, length and communication. Brissett filled the role admirably.

Syracuse ranked 5th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom. The athletic Brissett blocked 2.7 percent of opponent two-point field goal attempts while on the floor; he also stole the ball on 1.9 percent of Syracuse’s defensive possessions, too.


So, what if Oshae Brissett leaves?

If Brissett decided to hit the eject button on his college career, which seems unlikely at this point, Syracuse would really be in a bind. With Matthew Moyer’s decision to transfer out of the program, Syracuse is thin at the forward position, currently.

At the moment, only two players are committed to Syracuse’s 2018 class — both are guards.

In this hypothetical, a lot of responsibility would be placed on another rising sophomore forward: Marek Dolezaj.

The 6-foot-9 Dolezaj needs to add some weight; however, the native of Slovakia had some nice moments in the 2017-18 season. He has a sound midrange game, which could (and should) be extended out to the three-point line.

In Syracuse’s six postseason games, Dolezaj averaged 11.2 points and shot 61.9 percent from the floor. For the season, Dolezaj also shot 56.5 percent on non-post-up attempts at the hoop, too, per Synergy.


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