Here's a few numbers to consider when thinking about Chris McCullough's likely debut Monday night in Brooklyn: 29, 393, 16 and 215.
--29 of course is where he was drafted last June, which was not much of a surprise, if any surprise at all. Two weeks before the Draft, all five mock drafts had Brooklyn taking the 6'11" (as listed) Syracuse product. It later came out that McCullough had so-called "soft promise," that if he was available, Adam Silver would call his name when the next-to-last pick was announced.
--393 is the number of days since McCullough stepped on a court with people in the stands and music playing. It was January 11, 2015 that he went down in a heap in a home game against Florida State, suffering a torn ACL that made him wonder if he would ever play again. Not long after, he had the surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery (where else?) in Manhattan. That's a long, long time.
--16 is the number of games he played at Syracuse before he went down. That's the fewest games we can remember a first round pick logging in college since Kyrie Irving played in 11 for Duke before he was taken No. 1 overall. McCullough started out great but slowed down at the schedule got tougher. At one point, he scored a combined 12 points in three games. He did have some big games, like 12 points, six boards and a career-high five blocks against California in the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden and 20 points and nine boards against Iowa. But, bottom line, he is untested.
--215 is what he has said he weighs. That's light for a power forward in the NBA, but a big jump from McCullough. He's weighed 199 since he was a junior in high school and depending on how the Nets play him, it could be a disadvantage. He would appear to be too light for the 4, but with a graceful shot and good handles for his height, he might make an intriguing case for playing the 3. We're told don't be surprised to see him at both.
The big number, of course, will be how many minutes the Nets will play him for the remaining 32 games of this dreadful season. Everyone sees him as part of the team's core in the future, and that argues for big minutes, but the Nets have been very careful in bringing him along, paying attention to the mental aspect of the game as well as the physical.
He's gotten rave reviews from his Nets coaches and teammates on his work ethic but Tony Brown has tried to tamp expectations down just a bit in recent days.
"You have to understand, this kid has had a major knee surgery," Brown said last week. "You don’t want to rush him back. I understand a young player of his caliber … we want to see what [he] can bring to our team, but at the same time, we have to be careful about how we’re going to do that."
He seemed to be echoing what Lionel Hollins had said, in his own inimitable way a few weeks back.
"He’s got a ways to go…You get the physical part (down), and now you’ve got to get the mental part and the timing," said Hollins. "His last time playing was at Syracuse. This is the NBA. This is not Syracuse…He really is a long ways from being an NBA player from a technical perspective."
Jim Boeheim, McCullough's coach at Syracuse, had a more positive, long-term take on his recruit after the Draft.
"It was an enlightened move to draft him. In two to three years, he is going to be a front line player in the NBA," Boeheim told SiriusXM NBA Radio four days after the Nets drafted him.
Because he's been hurt, there's been little to no tape to watch of him. Mike Schmitz of Draft Express offered his take, based on his limited record at Syracuse, both strengths and weaknesses.
Of course, none of that will matter much after his debut. New opinions will form, both good and bad. But it's wise to be patient. So we wait and watch and hope