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NBA Draft: ESPN’s Chad Ford discusses Rakeem Christmas and Chris McCullough

first_img Published on June 24, 2015 at 12:17 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman Facebook Twitter Google+ Rakeem Christmas and Chris McCullough are both surrounded with questions ahead of Thursday’s NBA Draft, albeit on different ends of the spectrum. McCullough’s decision to come out early and Christmas’ age and experience are viewed in some light as hindrances to their draft stock.Both are viewed as late first- or early second-round picks, but their landing spots could fluctuate based on how teams view the uncertainties surrounding the pair.On Wednesday morning, ESPN analyst Chad Ford held a teleconference to discuss the NBA Draft and provided some insight into the possible professional fortunes of the two former Syracuse forwards.McCullough cognizant of decision, could land in 1st round“He took a gamble but I think one that he knew,” Ford said. “For circumstances that I think have less to do with basketball and more to do with life, he felt that he needed to turn pro.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMcCullough, 20, recently became a father, which may have played into his decision to enter his name in the draft. The likelihood is that he would’ve been a lottery pick if he returned to SU for his sophomore season, but he left after one year despite tearing his right ACL on Jan. 11 against Florida State.Until that point, he averaged 9.3 points and 6.9 rebounds in 16 games played and may have shown scouts enough to be taken just inside the first round.“He was a bubble first-rounder when he declared for the draft and he wasn’t going to be able to work out because of the ACL injury,” Ford said. “Will he go in the first round? I mean the good news for him is that he’s got several teams that have multiple picks in the first round like the Lakers and Celtics and you have a team in the Nets that seems to be a bit enamored with him.”That 27-29 range is one that Ford pegged as a target, as Los Angeles, Boston and Brooklyn are all possible destinations for McCullough. The questions will still be asked, but Ford sees any of those teams having a valid reason to jump on someone who hasn’t played a real game in over five months.“If he went 27, 28, 29 and the team just basically said, ‘Look, I think had he gone back to Syracuse he would’ve been a lottery pick next year, so we’re getting a player like that at 29. We can oversee the rehab, we get to make sure that everything’s great, I think he’s a good pick there,’” Ford said. “If he doesn’t go there, he’ll go in the first 5-10 picks in the 30s.”Christmas’ 2-way swordIt’s no secret Christmas took three years to finally blossom into an NBA Draft prospect. And even after turning in an impressive performance at the NBA Draft Combine, he’s still being projected on the cusp of the first round, more so toward the early second.“The skepticism about Christmas is his age,” Ford said of the 23-year-old. “And when you look at players that age, you expect them to be better than players that are in the 18-, 19-, 20-year-old range, right?”Christmas averaged 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds in a standout senior season that placed him on the Atlantic Coast Conference first team. He was lauded for his improvement on both ends and proved he’s developing a skill set to match his age, as Ford tabbed him the best player at the combine.But the comparisons between some of the more youthful crop are inevitable.“I think there’s still this grain of salt: he’s doing this with two, three years more experience than a lot of the guys that he’s playing against,” Ford said. “So while teams will absolutely acknowledge he’s more physically mature than a lot of players in the draft, that he’s been better coached and has more experience than those other guys, they’re trying to ask what was he like at 18 and 19 compared to some of the other prospects.“I think Christmas could slide into the late first, I think he’s still more likely to be one of those guys that goes into the 30-45 range.” Commentslast_img

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