With the 29th pick in last night’s NBA Draft, the Brooklyn Nets selected freshman forward Chris McCullough out of Syracuse. For fans who have been keeping up with the numerous mock drafts released in the days leading up to the draft, it’s no surprise Brooklyn chose McCullough. They were constantly paired with one another, due to Brooklyn’s need for a talented, athletic big man.
McCullough decided to declare for the draft, despite suffering an ACL injury midway through his freshman campaign. Many draft pundits agreed that McCullough is a lottery talent, if not for his injury. He isn’t expected to play for Brooklyn in the upcoming season, but the Nets are all right with that. Their thought process runs along the lines that McCullough will be their rookie in the 2016-17 season, in which they’ll be devoid of a first round pick.
What does Chris McCullough bring to the table? He’s 6’9” and weighs about 200 pounds. He averaged 9.3 points and 6.9 rebounds a game. McCullough’s strength is his athleticism, allowing him to run the floor in transition and finishing for easy buckets. The Nets were at the bottom of the NBA in fast break points last year, an area in need for improvement.
He has a good shooting stroke, and possesses a talent for beating his defenders off the dribble. In addition to scoring, McCullough can create second chance opportunities with his 3.1 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes. His 7’3” wingspan makes him a threat to swat shots into the stands, averaging almost 3 blocks per 40 minutes.
McCullough’s biggest weakness is defense. Although he moves around the court with fluidity and ease, he has very little discipline. Like many young defenders, he tends to bite on every shot fake. In addition, he’s inclined to ball watch and lose his man.
There’s no question that Chris McCullough has talent the Nets could undoubtedly use. He’s got a very high ceiling once he fully rehabs from injury, but that may be a while from now. Nets fans should expect his impact on the court in two or three years time. It’s difficult to project guys chosen at the end of the first round, but with McCullough’s lottery talent, it was a risk the Nets had to take.