Rakeem Christmas was a rare four year player in college. He played at Syracuse University and was a role player until a breakout senior season that no one could have predicted. Christmas earned playing time as early as his freshman year, saw his time and production slowly rise over the first three years of his collegiate career, and then suddenly became a star his season year. He is the classic case of hard work paying off eventually. Christmas went from averaging about 6 points per game his junior year to 18 his final season at Syracuse. It was a drastic rise, but in his senior season he became a dominant player. Christmas was always good on the defensive end, but it was his offensive game that finally came around. He developed post moves which brought his game to a whole new level. Prior to this senior season he was an afterthought for the NBA, but the Minnesota Timberwolves selected him with the 36th overall pick the draft. Shortly after, his rights were traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is where he spend his time for the summer league. His summer league performance was very inconsistent. He showed that he can rebound and block shots but he struggled at the offensive end at times. At 6’8”, Christmas is undersized for a power forward/center. He does have incredible length which helps him block shots on the defensive end, but his lack of height can hurt him on offense against bigger defenders. He has the ability to knock down some jump shots but will need to keep improving in that area. One strength he has is that he is a pretty good free throw shooter for a big man. In Cleveland, Christmas had a chance to make the roster, but would have been the fifth big man on the team. Cleveland sent him to Indiana just days ago and now he finds himself in a much better situation. In Indiana he will at least have a shot at becoming a role player. The Pacers traded Roy Hibbert and lost David West this offseason. They did sign Jordan Hill who will start at the center position but their power forward spot is up for grabs. Christmas will need to determine if he is better suited as a power forward or as a center. At 6’8”, his best position would be power forward despite having the ability block shots like a center. Lavoy Allen is really the only true power forward on the Pacers roster. They have a couple other young big men but they are really more centers than forwards. If Christmas can show his worth in training camp he may have a shot to earn some minutes at power forward this upcoming year.
Graphic via youtube
Graphic via syracuse