The Brooklyn Nets’ 29th overall pick is quite possibly the largest wildcard in the draft. McCullough was an integral piece in the grand scheme of the Syracuse system. He demonstrated versatility and the ability to impact the game majorly on both sides of the floor. After averaging 9.3 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.7 SPG and 2.1 BPG, McCullough proved himself to be one of the more proficient power forwards available in the draft class.
Confidence in McCullough quickly rescinded after he faced a major health setback. Mid-January, during a contest against Florida State, McCullough faced a slip of horrible luck and was dealt a knee injury requiring surgery. His time on the court had been cut short that year due to the recovery process, which was heartbreaking for such a gifted player who held a bright future.
Despite all this, Brooklyn took a long shot on McCullough and now they are hoping against all odds he can get back on track to becoming a fine forward.
Strengths & Weaknesses:
McCullough was sidelined throughout the course of the Summer League due to his continued recovery efforts, so let’s work with what we have and dive deeper into his college performance.
Graphic via zimbio
At 6’9 and weighing , McCullough is a smidge bit undersized at the power-forward position. He relies on his 7’3 wingspan to equalize the playing field and this makes things “even” for him on both sides of the floor. The most spoke about aspect of McCullough’s game is his superior defensive prowess. He controlled the defensive end of things by swooping into lanes and rising far above the rim to the tune of 1.7 SPG and 2.1 BPG. On the fast-break, McCullough demonstrated elite speed and showcased his high-flying capabilities when thrown the ball to convert on the easy bucket. All of these bode well and if he can continue to develop, his game will beautifully translate into the realm of the NBA.
One thing that is holding McCullough back is his incapability to score in more ways than just dunks and layups. When you force him to create for himself or post up, you are in for disappointment. His footwork isn’t developed and with his undersized frame he has trouble when attempting to score on larger opponents. At his current rate McCullough’s ceiling is a defensive anchor with very limited offence, which isn’t bad, but not ideal either.
Fit On The Brooklyn Nets:
The Nets have quite a lot to offer McCullough and if McCullough can capitalize on these offerings he can succeed in this league. He has a plethora of players to learn from, including Thaddeus Young who can help remedy the offensive woes by showing him how a PF can be versatile and score.
Aside from Young, the rest of the forwards on the roster are largely unproven players who can easily be overtaken on the totem pole. If McCullough can show this organization he is ready to contribute he can easily turn into the first PF off the bench for a surging Nets team who are going to be desperately chasing a playoff spot next year.
If McCullough can collect himself and regain his seemingly lost potential, he can offer the Nets a prodigy who can solve the hole at the forward position on a long term basis. At the very worst, if things don’t pan out, a gamble on a player of McCullough’s caliber is definitely not going to be criticized at the 29th pick.
Graphic via syracuse