Despite missing a majority of his rookie season due to injury, Chris McCullough has shown potential with the Brooklyn Nets.
The Brooklyn Nets took a chance on Chris McCullough when they drafted him with the 29th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. McCullough was still recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, and was expected to miss a large chunk of the season.
Though the Nets selected McCullough relatively late in the draft, this was because of injury, not potential. The Nets clearly saw potential with McCullough, as they were willing to take the risk of drafting an injured player.
At Syracuse University, McCullough only started and played in 16 games, averaging 9.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. He shot relatively well for someone his height as well, at 47.8 percent from the field. It was a bold move for McCullough to declare for the draft while still recovering from an injury. Despite that, what the Nets saw in him was enough.
In his rookie season with the Nets, McCullough played in only 24 games, making four starts. He only received significant playing time in a few games during the season. McCullough finished the season posting just 4.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks per game. The rookie was promoted to the starting lineup for the last four games of the season, following a 10-point performance against the Washington Wizards. In his last four games, McCullough also displayed skills on the defensive end, tallying a total of eight steals.
Luckily for the Nets, McCullough was one of the most promising young athletes on their 2016 Summer League team. In Summer League, McCullough tallied 10.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. This included a double-double performance in his second Summer League game against the Philadelphia 76ers. In that game, McCullough posted 13 points and 10 rebounds on 5-of-11 shooting from the field.
What the Nets have in McCullough is a player with incredible athleticism and the ability to put the ball on the floor. Although McCullough is 6-foot-11 with a maximum vertical of three feet, he still has a soft shooting touch. In his 24 games with the Nets, McCullough shot at 40.4 percent from the field overall and 38.2 percent from deep. McCullough is a shoot-first four, which is difficult to find these days, but fits very well in today’s NBA. Of course, his size gives him a considerable advantage as well. If McCullough can improve at boxing out, he will become one of the Nets’ most dominant rim protectors.
Heading into his sophomore season, McCullough is set to play huge minutes. McCullough might be the real winner this offseason, after the Nets shipped Thaddeus Young this offseason. With Young gone, the sophomore will definitely see more action. Though he won’t be starting (that role is reserved for veterans Luis Scola or Trevor Booker), he will certainly have a greater role on the team.
At just 21 years old, McCullough still has time to develop and hone all his skills on both the offensive and defensive ends. The potential is there. It’s up to McCullough to take it to the next level.