The Chris McCullough Plan


In this year’s draft, the Brooklyn Nets had a lot of options with the 29th overall pick. They could’ve drafted players like Kevon Looney, the raw freshman out of UCLA, or Montrezl Harrell out of Louisville, who could have been a huge help in the rebounding department, a part of the game the Nets have struggled with in recent years. Instead, they went with Chris McCullough, the freshman also from Syracuse. At 6’11” and a freakishly long 7’3″ wingspan, McCullough has all the tools to be a very effective player in the NBA.

One huge caution with McCullough coming into the draft was whether or not teams would shy away from him due to the fact he is still recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered in the 16th game of the season against Florida State. Before the injury, he was putting up decent numbers averaging 9.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He played alongside Rakeem Christmas, who was taken in the second-round of the draft by the Indiana Pacers. Christmas had better numbers than McCullough, but the upside that McCullough has is what NBA teams were so enamored with.

Today, teams in the NBA draft their players often based on how much upside and potential they have. The days of drafting four-year college players has been old for some time now, and McCullough definitely fits in the category of being a raw player with tremendous upside. First off, he’s extremely long which makes him a defensive presence for opposing slashing guards or posting big men. Through his 16 games at Syracuse, he averaged an impressive 2.1 blocks per game.

He’s also very athletic and can play well above the rim, which pays off on the offensive end in being able to throw lobs and count on him to grab a plethora of rebounds. In Syracuse’s offense, he was utilized often in pick-and-roll sets and showed he could knock down jump shots from 15-18 feet consistently (47.3 percent from inside the arc).

But with McCullough, the question of whether or not he will bounce back from the knee injury he suffered and is still recovering from remains to be seen. The Nets drafted him knowing it was going to be a long process of him getting on the floor, and they shouldn’t try to cut any corners. He won’t be ready to play physically until the middle or later part of this season, and even then, the Nets should limit him in minutes.

McCullough was a major investment, but he, as a first round pick, has everything it takes to be a very big contributor to this Nets squad. Trying to rush his recovery with the risk of him re-injuring his knee would be the worst thing that could happen. Many, including himself, can’t wait to see him play for his hometown team in Brooklyn, but for the purposes of the future, let’s hope it isn’t until late in the season when he is better than 100 percent (if that’s possible).

With McCullough and Brook Lopez in the front court, it brings a lot of size that most NBA teams don’t have. He would also be able to match-up fairly well with the stretch fours of the league because of his athleticism and quickness for a player his size.

Hopefully the Nets follow the plan of being patient and waiting to unveil their hometown kid this season. Because if they do and he shows that his knee is fully healed, Brooklyn fans have a very exciting player that has the ability to cause some problems for the majority of the teams in the league.

And in the words that McCullough uses after every Instagram post regarding the people that didn’t think he was worth the first-round selection…

They Sleep.