There were a lot of surprises in the NBA Draft but the Nets taking Chris McCullough was not one of them. Last week, five big mock drafts all had the Nets taking the 6'10" Syracuse power forward. Of the top 14 mock drafts issued this morning, five had McCullough in a Nets cap. McCullough himself told Nets Daily News' Ravi Shah that he wanted the Nets. And he;s the first New Yorker to play for the Brooklyn Nets.
"If I get drafted to the Brooklyn Nets, I want to bring home a NBA championship to my hometown," the Bronx native told Nets Daily News. McCollough also told Shah, "The Nets felt like home to me," saying he loved the questions the Nets asked him, presumably at the Draft Combine last month.
And apparently he knew he was headed to Brooklyn. Chad Ford wrote after the draft that McCullough had a guarantee.
McCullough had a promise from the Nets months ago. He would've been 10 to 15 spots higher had he not torn his ACL, and would've been a potential lottery pick in 2016 had he stayed in school. He probably doesn't play this season, but he has a ton of talent. He has a huge wingspan, is a good athlete and can stretch the floor. Not sure whether he'll develop, but the Nets are swinging for upside here.
McCullough has potential. At 20 years old and a bit less than 6'10" (Syracuse listed him at 6'11"), he's intriguing despite the knee injury. He's long, with a wingspan of 7'3", and athletic.. He's fluid, agile and capable of hitting shots out to the three point line. He was ranked top 20 among high school seniors last year by ESPN: #7, Scout: #16, and Rivals: #13, as DX notes. And he started out like a house on fire at Syracuse, averaging 16.4 points in his first seven games and shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor.
"I think that a lot of my skills transfer to the NBA. I can run the floor, rebound, and have the size to be a good defender in the league. I can also shoot from long distance and have a solid face-up game. However, there are still aspects of my play that I can improve," said McCullough, noting he needs to work on his ball handling and consistency.
And he has issues. Here are the other reasons besides his torn ACL injury that have draftniks questioning that potential. He is, as he notes, inconsistent, his motor is somewhat suspect and, as Draft Express notes, he has added only four pounds to his 199-pound frame in the past three years. Does that make him an average shooting stretch four, a tweener? And between that first great stretch at Syracuse where he averaged 16.4 points and his injury, McCollough didn't score more than seven points in any game.
But at No. 29, he's no risk, even with the ACL. He's said that he could be ready by November, but couched it. The Nets don't need him. And he costs very little. If he turns out to be lottery level talent, even next season, he's a real bargain, with the Nets paying him an average of a little more than a million dollars per year over four.