Rakeem Christmas 2015-16 Highlights

Check out highlights from Rakeem Christmas' rookie season. Christmas spent most of his year playing with the Pacers' D-League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

Rakeem Christmas 2016 Review Playlist

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Rakeem Christmas 2015-16 Highlights

Check out highlights from Rakeem Christmas' rookie season. Christmas spent most of his year playing with the Pacers' D-League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
May 17, 2016  |  02:19

Rakeem Christmas' First NBA Basket

April 13, 2016 - After spending nearly his entire season with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Rakeem Christmas got to see some action in game 82 and got his first NBA basket.
Apr 13, 2016  |  00:12

Player Review 2016: Rakeem Christmas

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Age: 24
Years pro: 1
Status: Has three years remaining on a rookie contract, with the final season a team option.
Key stats: Played in one game for six minutes and scored four points. Averaged 13.9 points and 7.1 rebounds for Fort Wayne in the Development League.

Rakeem Christmas is in the unique position of being a four-year college player and one-year D-League veteran who is still banking on potential. That can happen when you mature late in college and have to change positions in the pros.

Christmas was visible to Pacers fans last season only in the virtual blink of an eye, appearing in the final game at Milwaukee for six minutes (and six seconds). He hit both of his field goal attempts and scored four points. His real season occurred in Fort Wayne, where he averaged 13.9 points and 7.1 rebounds for the Mad Ants and was named to the All-Star team.

GALLERY: Rakeem Christmas' Season in Photos »

Christmas has traveled a wayward path since his four-year career at Syracuse. A late-bloomer who didn't take up the game until a teenager, he didn't excel in college until his senior season, when his scoring average jumped from 5.8 points to 17.5. He was a second-round pick of Minnesota, 36th overall, but traded to Cleveland on draft night. He played for the Cavs Summer League team, averaging eight points and 4.5 rebounds in 21 minutes per game. The Pacers got him for a second-round draft pick in July.

He remains somewhat of a mystery, especially for a 24-year-old – more than four years older than Myles Turner, in fact. He's listed at 6-8 to 6-10, depending on whether he's wearing shoes when measured, and his wingspan has been listed anywhere from 7-2 to 7-5. Regardless, he's got long arms and enough size and bulk to play power forward in the NBA, but is having to make the transition from center in college. He also comes from a zone-defense program, so is having to catch up on man-to-man defense.

He's athletic, has a repertoire of post moves, an instinct for blocking shots, good footwork and hands and the type of body that can add muscle without sacrificing quickness. He'll need to polish his perimeter skills to last in the NBA, but has shown potential for that. There's nothing wrong with his shooting form, and his free throw shooting was reasonably accurate last season: 73 percent. He's fairly quiet by nature, but gets credit for communicating well with teammates on defense, and seemed to fit well within the Pacers locker room on his frequent trips down from Fort Wayne.

Summer League will be important for him, as will how the draft, free agency and trades affect the Pacers' roster. They could have an opening, but he doesn't need to be told how difficult it is to latch on to one of the precious final spots on the active roster. The D-League is full of players with potential, and new ones are bubbling to the surface every year. But he seems certain of at least another year in the D-League if it doesn't work out with the Pacers.


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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