When Chris McCullough arrived on Syracuse's campus last fall, there seemed to exist a consensus among scouts that he would be a lottery pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, which will be held tonight in Brooklyn.
But a torn ACL coupled with an up-and-down freshman season put that talk to rest, and now there's no guaranteeing that he'll even hear his name called in the first round.
Because of his injury, McCullough won't be able to contribute to a team immediately. And even after he gets healthy, the forward will need time to develop and polish his game for the NBA. Still, it will be hard for teams picking late in the first round or early in the second to pass up on McCullough's freakish athleticism and truckload of potential.
If you missed our scouting report on the forward, click here.
For now, here are four potential landing spots for McCullough:
1. Brooklyn Nets: The Nets seem to be the most likely landing spot for McCullough, who is from New York City. A number of recent mocks have Brooklyn taking him with the 29th overall pick, and ESPN's Chad Ford said yesterday on a teleconference that the Nets "seem to be enamored with him."
Coming off a 38-44 season, the Nets are seemingly stuck in the NBA hell that is mediocrity. It's unlikely they'll be very competitive in the coming years. That bodes well for McCullough, because he's a project and would be best suited on a team that isn't in win-now mode.
It's also worth noting that the Nets don't have much depth at power forward outside of starter Thaddeus Young, who could be leaving in free agency. Young is backed up by Mirza Teletovic, who shot just 38.2 percent last season and is currently a restricted free agent.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: It's become clear that Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie sees the draft as, more than anything, a chance to stockpile assets. He doesn't seem to care how players fit, nor is he afraid to select players rehabbing injuries. Philadelphia's top picks in each of the last two drafts -- Nerlens Noel in 2013 and Joel Embiid in 2014 -- each missed the entirety of the ensuing seasons.
McCullough wouldn't be a great fit in Philly; the Sixers have three big men aged 24 or younger, including Embiid and Noel. But he would be yet another asset for an organization that is still in a massive rebuild.
If McCullough falls into the second round, Hinkie could have up to three chances to snag him at 35th, 37th, and 47th overall. The Sixers also have the 58th and 60th picks, but there's little chance McCullough falls that low.
3. Boston Celtics: Boston might secretly be the best fit for McCullough, even if it's not his most likely destination. One of the NBA's youngest teams, the Celtics are certainly built for the future with their core of Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, and Tyler Zeller -- even if a couple of those players get dealt in the near future.
Boston owns picks at 28th, 33rd, and 45th, and will obviously be looking to bolster that young core. McCullough might not be a perfect roster fit, but the Celtics won't find many players deep in the draft with the long-term potential he has.
4. Golden State Warriors: If the Warriors were to select McCullough with the 30th pick, it would surely be a value pick above all else. The reigning NBA champions won't be going out of their way to take players who won't be able to step in and contribute immediately. So if they do draft McCullough, it'll be because they believe he's the best available player.
But the forward would also be a pretty good fit with the defending champs.
The Warriors, as we saw in the NBA Finals and throughout last season, love to space the floor and win with the 3. McCullough is a capable jump shooter, which allows him to stretch the floor. Even at 6-foot-10, he doesn't clog the lane and would be able to free up even more space for guys like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. That's a huge plus for Golden State, which will likely deal forward David Lee this summer and could lose Harrison Barnes in the near future.