Former Syracuse center Rakeem Christmas was selected No. 36 overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in Thursday's NBA draft and has been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to multiple reports.
The Cavaliers traded Tyus Jones, whom they selected 24th overall, to Minnesota for its 31st and 36th picks, the latter of which was used on Christmas. In Cleveland, the center will likely come off the bench and play behind big men Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao.
Christmas, who will turn 24 in December, is a few years older than most other prospects in the draft. And at 6-foot-9, he's undersized for an NBA center, something his wingspan (7-foot-5) and standing reach (9-foot-3) will need to erase.
Nonetheless, Christmas is a highly regarded defender, thanks largely to his rim protection. He'll need to continue developing his offensive game, but he improved greatly on that end during his senior season, averaging 17.5 points per game.
That breakout season coupled with a strong showing at the NBA Draft Combine shot the SU grad up draft boards, with many projecting him as a late first or early second-round pick.