The Nets spin last June was that even though the team didn't have a pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Chris McCullough would become a lottery equivalent once he got past his ACL rehab. The logic was that McCullough was a projected lottery pick before he blew out his knee. The fact he was taken at No. 29 was all about injury, not potential, the Nets brass said.
Now, nearly a year and 24 games of NBA experience later, does that spin (logic?) hold? Would the 6'11" 21-year-old be lottery material in the 2016 Draft? Probably. This year's draft isn't that good and McCullough showed flashes of potential, particularly from deep and on defense, in his brief, injury-shortened rookie year.
McCullough played in those 24 games, starting four at season's end. He averaged 4.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 15 minutes per game while shooting 40.4% overall and a surprising 38.2 percent from deep. In those four starts, the Bronx native shot 51.7 percent overall and 50 percent from three. He also had eight steals. He looked as athletic as he did at Syracuse.
In his best game, a week before the season ended, McCullough showed off a number of his talents.
The new regime sees him as a keeper.
McCullough told Scout.com's Michael McAllister his biggest improvement was his shooting. He said his jumper is more consistent and he has more range than he did in college. It was something he and Nets coaches worked on during his 50-game rehab.
Overall, McCullough was satisfied with how things evolved during the season. "For me it was fun," McCullough said. "Getting to learn and learn from NBA guys. Playing and competing. Just getting back to the game."
McCullough still needs work, particularly in the weight room. He's still only 215 pounds, which is just 16 pounds heavier than he was a junior in high school. And he also will need a lot more game action. Expect to see him, as you would a first round pick, in the Las Vegas Summer League this summer. Then, in October, the Nets will get a sense of whether that spin was accurate. (Of course, that depends on what Boston does with the Nets pick, too!)