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Syracuse NBA Draft Preview: Where Should They Go?

What team would be the best fit for Christmas and McCullough

The NBA Draft is tomorrow, and both of the big men from last season are expected to get their names called at some point. A lot of people have been speculating as to where Chris McCullough and Rakeem Christmas will go, but I’m much more interested in where they should go.  I took a look at Chad Ford’s ‘Grade: A’ Mock Draft to get the ball rolling. Everyone knows about Ford’s Mock Drafts, but the Grade A version is fairly new. In this simulation, Ford goes through every pick from 1 to 60 and decides who each team would have to take in order to get an “A” for a draft grade. Ford takes into consideration a team’s needs and a player’s fit into the system, but also weighs in the fact that there could be an overwhelming talent on the board you can’t ignore. Here’s where each Syracuse player winds up, according to Ford’s analysis.

Chris McCullough: Brooklyn Nets (Round 1 Pick 29)

The Nets could use another big man regardless of Brook Lopez’s status on the team next season, but in all honesty the Nets could use a lot of things (a higher draft pick being one of them). ESPN has already written off McCullough’s career, but I like him going to the Nets because he’ll have a good chance to be successful with Lionel Hollins at the helm. Hollins, who will be in his second season with the Nets, brought Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph to the spotlight while coaching in Memphis. I don’t think McCullough sees a lot of minutes with the Nets in 2015 if Lopez is there, which I think works better for him in the long run.

Side note: Ford mentions how McCullough “would’ve been a likely lottery pick had he stayed another year at Syracuse.” I’ve been saying this for months, but we’ll just assume my job offer from ESPN got lost in the mail.

Rakeem Christmas: Utah Jazz (Round 2 Pick 42)

As Ford explains, the Jazz already has a starting lineup:

Their starting five of the future is pretty set: Dante Exum at point guard,Alec Burks at shooting guard, Gordon Hayward at small forward, Derrick Favorsat power forward and Rudy Gobert at center. That starting five has a chance to be awesome someday, and I don’t think anyone in Utah is going to mess with it.

That doesn’t spell doom for Christmas, however. I don’t think anyone expects Rakeem Christmas to be a star in the NBA, but if last season taught us anything it’s that he’s reliable and consistent. As a role player coming off the bench, you’ll be able to count on him to play solid defense and rebound. He isn’t the monster in the post that Jahlil Okafor is, but he’ll get points here and there and can finish close to the basket. The Jazz has the potential to be the elite team of five years from now, and Christmas fits right in as the big man coming in off the bench.

Posted: Nathan Dickinson

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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