NBA experts weigh in on former Syracuse players Chris McCullough, Rakeem Christmas

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McCullough is a possible first round pick

Former Syracuse forwards Chris McCullough and Rakeem Christmas will find out where they will start their NBA careers Thursday night in the NBA draft. We sat down with SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria and NBA Scout Ryan Blake to get each of their takes on their NBA futures.

About our panel:

  • Adam Zagoria covers the New York Knicks, Big East hoops and U.S. Open tennis for NBA.com and SNY.tv. He also appears as a Big East Basketball Insider on SNY and 1050 ESPN Radio. Follow @AdamZagoria
  • With over 30 years of scouting experience, Ryan Blake is a much sought after speaker and scout. Blake is one of the foremost advisors that many turn to, having annual interviews with major publications, internet draft websites as well as being a regular guest on NBA-TV, Co-hosting the Draft Preview and a longstanding commentator on the D-League Draft. Follow @HoopsHighway

» Related: Rakeem Christmas NBA Draft profile

On Chris McCullough

Adam Zagoria: McCullough is a borderline late first round pick. I think Chris has got a lot of upside and a potential to be a good NBA player. He’s probably going to start out in the D-League. It’s unclear whether he’ll be fully rehabbed and recovered and ready to go. He certainly has an NBA body with that length. But he’s got a limited sample size at Syracuse and he’s got to develop and work on his game. But if he does what he’s supposed to do, he’ll be an NBA player down the road.

Ryan Blake: I think for a guy who had an ACL injury and only played part of the season, he’s got a lot of ability. But in terms of where you want to get drafted, if that’s your goal, to make an NBA team. You want to get drafted in the first round where there’s guaranteed money. And you can’t work out with any teams because you’re not healthy enough. So when you look at any team that might have a second pick, yeah, they may check him out in the first round. However, he’s likely to go in the second round… You’ve got a guy that’s not a proven commodity. He’s got a lot of upside based on what you saw in the early part of the season, but right now there’s a lot of question marks.

On Rakeem Christmas

AZ: Rakeem Christmas is early second round pick. He’s a classic example of a guy who really helped himself by staying in college. No one was really talking about him as an NBA guy after his first couple of years, but he’s an example of a four-year guy who improved and helped his stock by staying at Syracuse for four years. He’s got a man’s body. He’s experienced. You know what you’re getting with him. You’re not drafting as much on potential. You know what he is now and what he can give you right away. He’s a little undersized for an NBA five man, but I think he can be a serviceable NBA backup big man.

RB: He’s got size. He’s got length. What I like about him is he’s a great defensive player who blocks shots and gets rebounds. He runs the floor like a gazelle. He’s got an NBA body. Everything about him is improving. IQ and as a playmaker. He has to play power forward. You look at what he did last year, and then what he did in years before. You’re looking at about five points a game and about five rebounds, and then boom, he shot up. Some people develop later, and sometimes when they develop, a lot of it is about confidence.

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Wes Cheng

About Wes Cheng

Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.
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