EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Syracuse senior Rakeem Christmas was the highest-profile member of Wednesday’s Nets draft workout, but he almost didn’t make it.
Christmas’s flight from Memphis — where he’d worked out the day before for the Grizzlies — was cancelled Tuesday night without warning due to weather issues, despite what he described as clear skies in Memphis and New York.
The Nets pushed back their workout by around 90 minutes, and Christmas flew out early this morning after sleeping five hours in a shady Memphis motel. “It was one of those raggedy (motels), that the door leads outside,” Christmas said Wednesday at the Nets facility.
“I got out the cab (in front of the motel) and the guy was like, ‘be careful over there.’ I was like, ‘oh God.'”
Christmas said his lack of sleep in an unfamiliar place didn’t affect his workout, and he could be in play for the Nets at either 29 or 41. The team has made a habit of drafting seniors, and Christmas averaged 17.5 points and 9.0 rebounds in 34.3 minutes per game in his senior year, a significant leap in his production from past seasons. He’s projected as a late-first round or mid-second round selection and has been linked to the Nets in mock drafts, though he says he ignores those.
Nets director of player personnel Gregg Polinsky was complimentary of Christmas’s workout and game. “I think his offense (can improve at the next level),” Polinsky said. “I think he is improved. If you look at him, again, what he did his first few years was minimal. What he did as a junior, you saw some defensive ability, shotblocking, but this year, they needed him to score the basketball more, and I think he produced for them.”
Along with Christmas, the Nets worked out St. Bonaventure center Yossou Ndoye, Eastern Washington guard Tyler Harvey, NYIT guard Darian Hooker, Tennessee guard Josh Richardson, and Ohio State guard Shannon Scott, all seniors with the exception of Harvey.