Scouting Report: Rakeem Christmas

Rakeem Christmas is a power forward/center from the University of Syracuse. Christmas is 6’9 with a wingspan of 7’5. For the year, he averaged, 17.5 points per game, 9.1 rebounds per game, 1.5 assists per game, 2.5 blocks per game, while shooting 55.2% from the field this season.

Pros:

  • Huge wingspan
  • Very athletic
  • Runs the floor well
  • High intensity motor
  • Great leader
  • Can catch and finish
  • Good in transition offense
  • Can drive be defenders
  • Can finish through contact
  • Comfortable operating back to the basket
  • Also has a face-up game
  • Free throw shooting has improved year by year
  • Great timing and instincts for shot blocking ability
  • Stays straight up, when defending he paint
  • Great, aggressive overall defender
  • Great defensive awareness
  • Directs his teammates on the defensive side of the ball
  • Great fundamental rebounder on both ends of the court
  • Can move laterally very well

Cons:

  • His height is too short for an NBA center
  • Does not leave the paint very often on either side of the ball
  • Slow decision making
  • Can be turnover prone
  • No offensive go-to move
  • Lacks a mid-range jumper and outside shot
  • No real ability to handle the ball
  • Bites on a lot of fakes
  • Turns 24 during the season
  • Average passer

Overall:

Christmas did not follow the norm of leaving after a season or two, and stayed in school for four years. This can be looked at as a con, as he is 23 when drafted, but turns 24 very early in the season. The time in Syracuse really helped build Christmas’s skill set. On the offensive side of the ball, Christmas has gained a great deal of confidence in his back to the basket and post-up games. This is good to see, because other than this he is very limited. Christmas does not have the ability to stretch the floor, lacking a mid-range jumper, so he is forced to stay in the paint. He does use his ability to run the floor well to get out in transition for some offense that way as well. Christmas can often get caught holding the ball too long in the paint, leading for him to make bad passes, increasing his turnover numbers. His free throw shooting has improved over the years, but could still use some more work to make it more consistent. The willingness to work on this, shows Christmas’s drive to continue to be better. On the defensive side of the ball, Christmas is terrific. He is a very aggressive man-on-man defender, who uses his wingspan and foot speed to keep his opponents in front of him. When going up for a block, Christmas uses great timing and instincts, keeps his arms and back straight, for a clean block, and lesser chance of getting a foul called upon himself. Christmas is also a very vocal leader to his teammates on defense. He tells them where to go, and is very willing to help them if necessary. His knock on defense is, he bites a lot on fakes. This can be a problem at the next level with getting into foul trouble, but with some coaching and practice this can be fixed. Rebounding is a great attribute for Christmas, as he attacks both ends of the glass with great fundamental rebounding skills. As an overall, Christmas is considered a fringe NBA caliber player. I disagree with that statement, as I have stated before, I think he will be a steal in the 2015 draft. His draft range seems to be in the 27-35 range. With Golden State needing to part ways with David Lee, I could see them going after Christmas, as a way to replace him and keep the rebounding presence off the bench.

Pro Comparison:

Tristan Thompson

Quite a few people compare Christmas to Draymond Green, and I just do not see it. Green is a stretch four, while Christmas has the size of a four, but the play style of a center. That is why I think Thompson is a better comparison. Thompson has the same height, big wingspan, rebounding tenacity, and same offensive limitations as Christmas, but less defensive ability. On the offensive side of the ball, both Christmas and Thompson are stuck to the paint, for garbage man duty, and a small arsenal of post moves. Neither player has enough confidence in their jumper to try and extend their range. Neither player is a consistent free throw shooter, but both keep marginally improving. Rebounding skills are similar for these players, as both are so aggressive when attacking the glass. On the defensive side of the ball, Christmas is a way better defender than Thompson is, and has much higher upside on this end of the court. As an overall, Thompson is trying to get a max contract this offseason, so getting compared to this type of player has a pretty good forecast for Christmas. He will probably never make any All-Star games, but he will always be in the gym trying to get better to prove people wrong, and better his game. This will make Christmas one of the better role players in the NBA, so by those standards, he will have a successful career.

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