Syracuse Basketball: Christmas and Carter-Williams on Way-Too-Early 2013 Mock Drafts.

Despite a lackluster freshman campaign, Syracuse center Rakeem Christmas is getting some early buzz for the 2013 draft.

The 2012 NBA draft was a record-setting one for the Syracuse Orange.  Dion Waiters was the second top five pick in the last three drafts for the Orange.  Fab Melo joined him at pick 22 to make them only the second pair of Syracuse players selected in the first round.  Then Kris Joseph chipped in, going 51st to make 2012 the first time where three Syracuse players were drafted in the first two rounds.

So what will 2013 hold?

Well, that depends on who you ask.  Draft Express has sophomore PG Michael Carter-Williams as the sole Orange player in their 2013 mock draft, going 26th overall.  McDubz didn’t get as much court time in 2011-12 as he would have liked, but most expect him to be handed the keys to the team for the upcoming season.  He showed flashes during his limited action that have us fans drooling and the pundits expecting him to have a breakout year.  Of course, only time will tell.  Perhaps he’ll have a pedestrian season and fall off the draft radar entirely.  Maybe he’ll set the college basketball world on fire and make himself a lottery pick.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens.  It could end up being a situation similar to the one that Kris Joseph faced after his sophomore season.  KJ was widely regarded as a top prospect after a stellar season as Wes Johnson’s backup.  It’s no stretch to say that staying in school hurt his draft stock.  If MCW is faced with a similar situation, he may follow Dion’s lead and bolt for the NBA before any holes in his game are exposed.

NBADraft.net, though, has a very different draft picture.  McDubz doesn’t appear at all.  Instead, their 2013 mock draft has Rakeem Christmas going 13th overall to the Milwaukee Bucks.  Despite starting every game as a frosh, Rak played only one more MPG more than MCW.  Rak received what has become known as The Fab Melo Treatment, getting the start but sitting very early.  Late in the regular season, he was lucky to last a minute of game time.  Still, he performed admirably during the NCAA tournament in the absence of the suspended Fab, highlighted by an 8 point, 11 rebound showing against Kansas State.  The word “potential” is the most overused term when discussing draft prospects, but Rak is teeming with it.  He didn’t play much as a frosh and only peformed well in spurts when he was on the court.  Still, you can tell that he’s willing to learn and isn’t afraid to mix it up down low.  Many times, the battle for position in the lane would end up with Rak standing over an opponent he’d tossed aside.  That’s a good thing.  It doesn’t make him NBA ready but, just like MCW, a solid sophomore campaign might be enough to entice NBA execs to take a gamble on the potential.

An interesting omission is that in a draft full of CJs (CJ McCollum, CJ Leslie, CJ Wilcox) Syracuse’s C.J. Fair is missing.  I wouldn’t say it’s surprising.  Where MCW and Christmas are relatively unknown quantities teeming with potential, C.J. has been a solid, if not spectacular, contributor for two seasons.  Where MCW and Rak have a chance to impress before their games can be totally picked apart, people think they already know everything there is to know about.  I tend to disagree. 

C.J. Fair has NBA swingman written all over him.  He’s got the size and the athleticism.  He’s fabulous from 15 feet  and in and I expect him to extend his jumper consistently to three point range this upcoming season.  He’s an excellent rebounder and shot blocker for a small forward.  And more than that, he doesn’t make the game any harder than it has to be.  Rarely does he try to dribble around or through people to get his shot off.

C.J.’s numbers don’t blow you away, but I think that has to do more with his role than anything with his game.  His first two seasons, he was a 4th scoring option at best.  Now with Dion, KJ and Scoop gone, Boeheim is going to depend on C.J. to pick up a good chunk of the scoring load.  How Fair handles that responsibility is what will make of break his draft stock.  Is he NBA ready right now?  No, probably not and despite his solid play, nothing he does has that “it” factor that alludes to a high ceiling.  But he has another summer and the upcoming season to work and prove that he has what it takes.  C.J. might not be mentioned in these early draft discussions, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the one who ends up going high in 2013.

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