Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NBA Scouts: Postseason Ban Won’t Impact Rakeem Christmas’ Draft Stock
Rakeem Christmas’ draft stock won’t be adversely affected by Syracuse’s postseason ban, two veteran NBA scouts told SNY.tv.
“Not at all,” said one scout who projects Christmas will go in the 20-30 range of the NBA Draft. “Everyone will have seen him multiple times this year to make a decision on him.”
“It should not hurt him much,” a second scout said. “He’s playing on a big ACC stage.”
DraftExpress.com currently has Christmas going as the No. 54 pick.
The 6-foot-9 senior center is averaging 18.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks for Syracuse (15-7).
The Orange haven’t made him available to the media since self-imposing the postseason ban earlier this week. But in a statement with fellow captains Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije, Christmas said: “We are all tremendously disappointed that we are going to miss out on playing in the postseason based on issues that do not involve us. However, we support our school and this won’t change how hard we will continue to work in practice and in games.”
Christmas’ stock had been rising before the ban.
“He wasn’t on the board before,” the second scout recently told SNY.tv. “He’s averaging 18+ and 9 rebounds, he shoots over 72 percent from the free-throw line. There aren’t a lot of big guys who do that.
“He’s an example of a guy staying four years made all the difference. He would’ve made a mistake if he came out, he wasn’t going to the NBA. But you stay in all four years and work it…It’s interesting. I think he’s a bubble guy now, end of the first, beginning of the second [round].”
Before the ban, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim had been singing Christmas’ praises, telling Syracuse.com he’s “probably the best center in the country.”
“He’s going to play 10, 15 years in the NBA,” Boeheim told the New York Post. “He can guard two positions, he can play the four or the five, he can run the court, he can defend, he’s got a good low-post game. There aren’t many guys like him in the NBA.
“The hardest thing for teams to get is somebody with size who can run and be athletic.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.