Mar 2, 2015; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Rakeem Christmas (25) handles the ball during the first half of a game against the Virginia Cavaliers at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
What The Experts Say:
"Sporting very good physical tools, Christmas doesn’t have great size for a center at 6-9, but makes up for that somewhat with a very long 7-3 wingspan, strong athletic ability, and a frame that should continue to fill out in time. This, combined with his solid timing and ability to get off the ground quickly, helps him as a rim protector. – Jonathan Givony, DraftExpress"
What The Player Says:
"If I’m not scoring, I’m trying to get rebounds, trying to block shots. Just try to give my teammates a little and make some plays. I’m really just the kind of person who wants to go out there and help my team win. – Rakeem Christmas"
What BTBP Says:
So we’ve already picked a power forward for the Celtics with the 16th pick, let’s take a center with the 28th to round out a rotation of four young, effective and versatile big men who would offer the Celtics a strong base to build on up front.
This would allow the Celtics to move on from solid yet unspectacular journeymen like Brandon Bass and Jonas Jerebko in favor of cheap young talent on rookie deals, creating even more space for Danny Ainge to add to the group in free agency.
Christmas may have work to do offensively, but defensively he has all the requisite skills to be a defensive anchor that the Celtics could build around for years.
Think of what many people nostalgically remember Kendrick Perkins as from the 2008 championship winning team except Christmas is fast and actually protects the rim rather than just providing an illusion that he does.
Center picks at this stage of the draft simply don’t generally have as much upside as this one could have.
Justin Danziger of SB Nation’s Celtics Blog sees how the Celtics could have the last laugh by picking Christmas at 28:
"If Christmas can continue to improve his offense and gain some weight, I see this as a future steal. On the Celtics, he can start but would likely come off the bench to provide valuable minutes of protecting the rim. Defensively, I love this pick. Christmas has a ton of upside, the only thing bringing him down is his offense and age. He would be the most athletic big wearing green."
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