Rakeem Christmas was very impressive during the first few days of the NBA pre-draft combine held in Chicago.
The 23-year-old Christmas, one of the oldest players in the draft, had a tremendous senior season at Syracuse and has been the big winner of the combine so far according to ESPN.
“I’m not sure any player has helped himself more than Rakeem Christmas in these two days,” ESPN.com reporter Jeff Goodman said during Friday’s telecast.
Christmas started the week by recording terrific measurements during the test portion of the combine — measuring 6-foot-9¾ in shoes, with a 7-5¼ wingspan and 9-2½ standing reach. While the measurements definitely help Christmas in the eyes of scouts, it was how he performed during the 5-on-5 scrimmages that is most important. And Christmas dominated the action on both Thursday and Friday.
Christmas drew attention during the first round of scrimmages by putting up 20 points, on 7-of-10 shooting, and grabbing six rebounds. He followed up that performance with a 19-point, six rebound effort on Friday. He made six of his 12 shots from floor and was 7-of-9 from the charity stripe.
Christmas definitely turned ESPN analyst and former Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg into a fan.
“He’s played hard. “He’s basically validated what happened yesterday (Thursday) with his effort.”
“He can run. He’s rebounded balls out of his area. He’s a physical screener, which I think is underrated. As a frontcourt player, you’ve got to be a good screener. And now, he’s shown that 17-foot jumper. He’s showing a pretty complete offensive game.”
Philadelphia Daily News is reporting that Christmas, who is projected to be a second round draft pick in several mock drafts, will work out for the 76ers on May 26. The Sixers have five-second round picks.
Christmas averaged 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds to go along with 2.5 blocks in 34 minutes of action last year. He shot 55.2 percent from the field and 71.2 percent from the free throw line. Those numbers are a dramatic improvement over his first three collegiate seasons. Christmas averaged around five points and five rebounds in 21 minute of action during his sophomore and junior years.
“He had an advantage [over his combine competition] as a four-year senior,” one NBA GM told ESPN. “But that wasn’t what set him apart. I felt he showed that he could disrupt shots, attack the rim and play bigger than I felt he did at Syracuse. There aren’t many centers in this draft after the lottery, and I think he’ll draw a lot of interest for teams in the late first and early second.”
Christmas interviewed with the Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic at the combine.
The first day of the combine was May 12 and it continues through Sunday, though the on-court portion of the combine is over.
(Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)