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NBA Draft: Teams wonder if Rakeem Christmas can match his dominant senior season

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on June 25, 2015 at 4:40 am Contact Chris: [email protected] | @ChrisLibonati Kevin Givens could see the differences last season. Rakeem Christmas’ high school coach said the forward looked bigger in the shoulders, his mental demeanor changed and, as a result, he dominated in the post.The improvements earned Christmas several accolades — he was an All-American, first team All-Atlantic Coast Conference, ACC co-defensive player of the year and earned the ACC’s most improved player award — but couldn’t earn him a first-round peg in mock drafts.While his 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game as a senior established his post presence, it took two efficient performances in 5-on-5 scrimmages at the NBA Draft Combine to initially land at No. 39 in ESPN analyst Chad Ford’s mock draft in May.Heading into Thursday’s draft at Barclays Center, the combine results solidified Christmas as a draftee when he once may not have been. His wingspan was measured at more than 7 feet 5 inches, and he’ll be banking on general managers valuing his combine performance heavily rather than the first three years of his Syracuse career, when he averaged just 4.5 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game.“I think he performed at a really high level at the combine and opened a lot of eyes even further than opened during the season,” Jay Bilas said. “So I like him a lot and I think he’s a valuable pick in the early second round.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textDuring Christmas’ combine performance, he flashed a mid-range jump shot and in two scrimmages, averaged 19.5 points and six rebounds per game. Before the draft, Givens took calls from Washington, Cleveland, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Boston, all teams with second-round picks or late first-round picks.While Christmas is a skilled big man that can play on the block, teams still have to weigh how long it will take him to adjust at the NBA level. Taking four years to adjust in the NBA, like he did at SU, could cost him a roster spot.Of the players taken in the first half of the second round in the last two years — that’s where analysts expect him to land — just 10 out of 30 have played half of an NBA season. Only seven of such picks from the 2012 class played half of the 2014-15 season, which would have been their third season in the league.Teams will have to believe Christmas’ sudden improvements in post play and his mid-range game will translate, and that he can play man-to-man defense. His former in-conference competition has bought in.Former Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant said Christmas’ “feel for the game is really good,” and thinks he can contribute to a team while former Duke forward Jahlil Okafor called him one of the best ACC players last season.Unlike Bilas and the two of the best players in the ACC, Jonathan Givony of Draft Express does not necessarily think teams are sold on Christmas’ one-year improvement.“The fact that he’s going in the second round tells you they aren’t buying into it too much,” Givony said.And teams seem to still be trying to figure out why it took Christmas so long to improve. Givens said general managers asked him what the difference between Christmas as a freshman at Syracuse and now is. Givens said he replied, “‘Man, you’d have to be a psychologist to answer that one.’”While the combine displayed parts of Christmas’ game he hadn’t shown before, it also gave him a chance to show off one thing he can’t change: his wingspan. The combination of his productivity and size that fits into the stretch-four or center positions in the end is what might give him a shot in the NBA.“Any time you have a guy that is 6’10” with that kind of wingspan and that productivity,” Givony said, “I think that you’ve got to take a serious look at him.”Sports Editor Sam Blum and Asst. Sports Editor Matt Schneidman contributed reporting to this story. Commentslast_img read more


first_imgErrigal Scout County members Dessie Taylor from Derry and Dympna Whoriskey from Newtoncunningham got a jubilant surprise when they attended the National Council of Scouting Ireland which was held in the RDS at the weekend.Dympna and Dessie.They both were bestowed with the Order of Cu Chulainn which is the highest honour confered on a volunteer within Scouting.Dessie and Dympna were equally shocked when during the presentation members of their immediate families appeared on stage, unknown to them both families has travelled to Dublin to celebrate their achievements with them. The Order of Cu Chulainn is awarded to volunteers in recognition for their commitment and dedication to Scouting over their lifetime.Dessie has been a member of his group in Derry for over 40 years, while Dympna has been an active member of 9th Donegal (Newtoncunningham) for the past 26 years.All their Scouting friends wish to congratulate both on receiving this honour.  LOCAL SCOUTERS RECEIVE NATIONAL RECOGNITION was last modified: April 20th, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:DerrydonegalScoutslast_img read more