The leading scorer and rebounder on the undefeated #1 ranked team in the country, Kris Joseph
has had a strong start to his senior campaign, likely drawing plenty of attention by virtue of his team's excellent performance.
Joseph has made some subtle improvements in a few areas of his game, the most notable of which is what can be seen at first glance, that he's added some bulk to his frame. Joseph in the past has struggled with his ability to finish through contact due to his lack of strength, but has shown flashes of improvement in limited attempts this season, looking more comfortable finishing in the lane on both power and finesse moves when he utilizes them.
While Joseph appears to have improved some of his tools for finishing inside, it unfortunately has yet to translate into consistent results, as he's actually getting to the free-throw line at a much lower rate this season.
The decrease is mostly a result of Joseph playing exclusively on the perimeter this season (as opposed to being utilized as a combo forward) and changing his scoring tendencies some, favoring pull-up mid-range jumpers a bit more than he has in the past. With that said, on the occasions he is attacking the rim on cuts and straight-line drives, he is doing a better job powering up through contact, not being afraid to go strong to the rim.
Joseph is not the quickest or most explosive small forward prospect you'll find in this draft, but he has an excellent feel for scoring, and thus finds ways to get the job done at the college level.
As a shot creator, Joseph has made strides in some areas, looking more comfortable with his advanced ball-handling abilities, commonly using behind-the-back dribbles and both hands with a lower, controlled dribble on the perimeter, but has yet to develop the same comfort level operating in tight spots going to the rim. His increased mass doesn't appear to have slowed him down noticeably, and he's probably playing at close to an ideal weight for his game.
Joseph's spot-up three-point shooting remains his most potent offensive weapon, as he's proven last season's strong performance was no fluke. Joseph has again increased his three-point attempts (from 4.5 to 6 per-40 minutes) and percentages (36.6% to 41%) thus far this season, being a very dangerous threat when left open, and even showing some nice ability to knock down spot-up shots on the move in transition. This is an improvement development for him, as he likely won't be asked to operate as heavily with the ball in his hands in the NBA as he does at Syracuse, making it more necessary for him to be a knock down shooter.
As far as Joseph's pull-up jumper goes, it's still largely a work in progress, with him being very inconsistent pulling up from mid-range while defended. While his advanced ball-handling has improved some, he doesn't have the ability to consistently get separation from his defender in isolations, and his shooting form is still prone to breakdowns pulling up off the dribble. This isn't likely something he'd be called on to do in the NBA, and could benefit from having a more limited offensive role there, but his developing skills in all areas are still a nice development, as just being able to keep the defense honest in this area is useful.
On the defensive end, the story remains the same with Joseph, as it's very difficult to evaluate the things he'd be asked to do in the NBA in Syracuse's strict zone system. His effort level and focus remain solid, and he certainly has the tools to be a good defender at the small forward position (and perhaps a passable one in limited minutes at the power forward with his improved physique), but he is rarely put into situations where he has to defend a man one-on-one in isolation or the post.
Looking forward, Joseph should continue to get heavy attention from scouts all season with Syracuse likely to remain a strong contender for a #1 seed, and brings some appealing tools to the table from an NBA perspective. His combination of size, scoring instincts, spot-up shooting, and ability to attack on straight-line drives makes him a good fit for a role-playing 3 at the next level, though his defense still remains a question mark. Joseph's also made some slight strides in the little areas this season, increasing his rebounding and cutting down his turnovers, things that definitely won't hurt his stock.
Joseph's draft position may be hurt by his advanced age (he just turned 23) and the depth of this year's class, but he could find himself in the first round mix when it's all said and done if he continues to play well and his team continues to win.