NBA Draft Profile: C/F Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse

Rakeem Christmas was a monster on the boards and a force to be reckoned with on both ends of the court during his senior season at Syracuse. His scoring skyrocketed to 17.5 points while he also pulled down 9.1 rebounds per game. Christmas also averaged 2.5 blocked shots per contest, with his season-high of six which happened twice — once against Loyola (MD) and against Pittsburgh. He finished the year with 12 double-doubles despite drawing plenty of attention down low.


Age 23
6’9″ 245 lbs.
Wingspan: 7’ 5.25”
Standing Reach: 9’ 2.5”

Christmas is one of the oldest players in the draft and certainly has some room to continue to improve, however, in my view he’s also one of the most polished players available. He has solid range out to about 17-feet and shoots better than 71% from the free throw line. He may be a touch undersized to be a true center in the NBA, but he has the potential give solid minutes in the post when needed in large part due to his strong defensive ability. His disruptive play around the rim all but assures him a role as, at worst, a strong bench player who can add a spark or start in a pinch. It will be interesting to see what kind of situation he ends up in.

Christmas likely played himself into the late picks of the first round this season with his at times dominant play. He’ll find scoring and rebounding tougher in the NBA, but he should be able to make the transition to more physical basketball aided by his tremendous athleticism.

He could find himself selected in a run of ACC players predicted to go late in the first round. One mock draft for Bleacher Report had seven ACC alums being selected in the final 14 picks of the June 25th NBA Draft.

Christmas could also easily slip down into the early second round where he would be an incredible steal for some team. Christmas could be a nice piece for a rebuilding team like the Lakers at the bottom of the first, but a lot depends on what they do earlier in the draft. The Lakers have the second overall pick, so if they decide to choose a big like Jahlil Okafor it might rule out LA (though no one would really complain if they picked up multiple big men). Rakeem might also make a nice flyer pick for a team with a solid foundation like Golden State at No. 30 overall.


NBA Draft Projection: Late First Round


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