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What Up With Kris Joseph?

Last season he looked like a can't miss pro and it this season was his to show how good he is.  But as of the first ten games, he has seemed to be less first round and more needs rounding out.  I'm sure that you, like myself, are wondering if it was all hype but can we really form solid conclusions this early in the season ...


What is up with Kris Joseph? 


I have been extolling the virtues of Kris Joseph ever since last season.  He has some great talent around him to feed him the rock, a great system that they run at Syracuse that works to his skill set and all the physical tools to be a great player this season.  So I ask again, what is up with Kris Joseph this season? 


There was a lot of ballyhoo when it came to Joseph going into his junior year and expectations were high.  And for the most part, the high expectations were warranted for the most part.  Playing in the shadow of NBA Draftees Wesley Johnson and Andy Rautins as well as space eater Arinze Onuaku, Joseph was perfect sixth man.  Johnson received most of the attention from opposing defenses, Rautins was the long range bomber so he drew attention on the perimeter and Onuaku was a huge body to draw the focus in the key.  All that made for a perfect environment for a slasher to dive the middle for the pass or pull up for a mid range shot.  Joseph flourished in the role and really did take full advantage of it on his way to averaging 10.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists earning Big East Sixth Man of the Year.  Through the first ten games of the 2010-11 season, Joseph has been a little on the disappointing side. 


That’s not to say that Joseph is playing poorly because he’s not.  If you are going strictly by his averages, he looks to be playing pretty well.  He’s averaging 13.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game.  Those are not bad numbers by any stretch but is it just me or did we all think that those numbers would be better?  Looking strictly at his minutes from last season, he is averaging about the same amount of time, 28.1 minutes this season compared to 27.8 over last.  He is getting ample opportunity to perform but he seems to be a little inconsistent. 



Now that was a word that some prognosticators had bandied about when it came to Joseph before the season started:  could he be a consistent performer without the stars to take the heat off of him.  Last season Coach Boehiem really didn’t give him much in terms of opportunity early in the season and when he did finally come on, it was viewed as a pleasant surprise.  When you have Johnson, Rautins and Onuaku doing most of the damage, any other contribution is a bonus I guess.  But in the time he was given, he did show flashes of the kind of player he can be and that is what we are all focusing on right now. 


This season, there has been a thread of inconsistency through the first ten games.  He’s gone from 3 points, 3 rebounds in 19 minutes against Detroit to dropping 18.8 points and 4.8 rebounds over the next four games that included wins over Michigan and Georgia Tech to a 3-for-13 performance against NC State.  He’s seemed to yo-yo in his outputs almost weekly even in his good games. 


Joseph is a legit big time talent but is it fair to say that he’s under producing?


I would say not and it just isn’t fair to say any way you look at it.  Especially when you factor in that he is the guy with the target on his back most nights.  Joseph has become the target of the opposing defenses now and in doing so it’s managed to open up spots and opportunities for guys like Rick Jackson and Scoop Jardine to make plays.  That’s great for those two but bad for Joseph because we are expecting him to be the next Wesley Johnson.  But we really need to remember that Kris Joseph will never be the next Wesley Johnson though.  He’s just not that type of player. 


So now what? 


We will have to wait for the rest of the season to play out.  There are still plenty of games left in this season (at least 23 or so I would expect) and Joseph can still make a great run.  Last year when he really came out was in the latter half of the season which included double figure scoring in 12 of his last 13 regular games that also includes his career high in both scoring (23) and rebounding (11).  With so many games still to be played, there will be ample time for Joseph to get new career highs so we should likely hold off any thoughts of disappointment or being overrated, at least for right now. 

He came on later last season and later this season is around the corner.