Christmas is the rare case of a senior with crazy potential. (Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
Christmas is the rare case of a senior with crazy potential. (Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

Rakeem Christmas (Senior, Syracuse, @R_Xmas25)

Power Forward/6’9/245/Age: 23

Product of…Academy of the New Church via Philadelphia, PA

Quick Stats

17.5 points/game, 9.1 rebounds/game, 1.5 assists/game

Absolutely NO ONE helped their stock more than Syracuse forward Rakeem Christmas at last week’s combine. He legitimately raised his stock from second round-undrafted to a potential late-first round pick after defiantly outplaying the competition. As an active, mobile big, Christmas got out in transition, battled for some tough boards down low, and showcased a sweet touch near the rim.

During interviews, Christmas said he studies Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson for inspiration and we’ve noticed a couple of similarities (active rebounders, great work ethic, commitment to defense) between the two. Christmas still needs to add range on his jumper but now projects as a future role-player in the league. The Combine was not a fluke performance…there is always a place in the NBA for active bigs that buy into playing their role.

Strengths:

-Hard-working big who never gives up on plays; slides feet well on defense; effective rebounder on both sides

-Very improved midrange shooter out to about 17 feet (quick release, good base); comfortable finishing off plays in P&R; rolls hard and invites contact at the rim

-Great combination of strength and quickness; should be able to get by slower bigs when driving to the cup

Feb 7, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Rakeem Christmas (25) handles the ball as Pittsburgh Panthers forward Michael Young (2) defends during the second half at the Petersen Events Center. Pittsburgh won 83-77. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Weaknesses:

-Lacks three-point range; though outside shooting is not exactly his forte, the next step is to keep defenses honest from the perimeter

-Sometimes forces the action too much on the block; gets out of control

-Unpolished back to the basket scorer; limited to basic hooks and occasional turnarounds

D.O.G. Status: Christmas’s draft range is anywhere from 25-40. His motor and infectious effort makes him a potential steal.

NBA Comparison: Taj Gibson

#DOFGAME #DOG

-Jabari J.

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