Found in Transition: Syracuse’s Tyus Battle excels in new role

This was always supposed to be Tyus Battle’s season at Syracuse. The departures of Andrew White III and Tyler Lydon made that a certainty. When promising post scorer Taurean Thompson decided to transfer to Seton Hall, the weight upon Battle’s shoulders grew exponentially.

So far, that hasn’t bothered Tyus Battle one bit.


Battle Ball

According to Sports Reference, Battle is the only player in the ACC with a usage rate above 30 percent that had a usage rate under 20 percent in 2016-17. 30.4 percent of Syracuse’s possession have ended with Battle shooting the ball, drawing a foul or turning it over.

Of note: Battle has a turnover rate of only 3.5 percent, per KenPom. This means he’s getting up a lot of shots, and scoring a bunch of points — 23 per game, in fact.

As a freshman, Battle was an excellent spot-up player (1.21 points per possession); that hasn’t changed, but the 6-foot-6 guard has added an isolation element to his game. Battle has scored 1.4 points per possession (57.1 percent shooting) on isolation plays, per Synergy Sports. He’s drawn a foul on 22.2 percent of these possessions, too.

In 2016-17, Battle scored 0.88 points per possession on isolation plays, according to Synergy.

On two-point field goals: Battle is shooting 61.5 percent, per Hoop Math. It’s super early, but that’s an improvement over last season — 43.8 percent.


On The Move

A benefit of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone is a defense that produces high steal rate — the number of opponent possessions that end with a steal. Perimeter players at the top of the zone can gamble and take chances with confidence knowing a wall of defenders are behind them.

The last time the Orange finished outside of the top 20 nationally in terms of steal rate was the 2008-09 season, according to KenPom.

Despite the high steal rate, this is a program that runs selectively; Syracuse isn’t VCU or Louisville. Sitting back in the zone causes the game to slow down. When the Orange decides to run, though, this team can be rather efficient. Syracuse scored 1.14 points per possession in transition last season — No. 5 in the ACC, per Synergy.

Tyus Battle is on a one-man mission to make sure that happens again. According to Synergy, Battle has yet to miss a field goal attempt in transition so far this season: 5-of-5, 2.2 points per possession. Batte alone accounts for 11 of Syracuse’s 21 transition points. The rest of Syracuse’s roster is scoring just 0.59 points per possession, on 31.3 percent shooting.


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