Position: Power forward
Weight: 225 lbs
The game: Chriss is one of the few players in this year’s draft pool who has the tools to be an ideal stretch big in today’s NBA. He’s got a smooth shot for a 6-9 big man, as well as the explosiveness to be a constant threat around the rim. At just 19, there’s a lot of untapped potential for NBA scouts to drool over, but plenty of flaws to address, too. He was a defensive liability at Washington in his one season, especially on the interior. The question teams must answer about Chriss is whether his bad habits (poor rebounding, fouling) are correctable at the next level.
The statistics (2015-16 season): 13.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.8 apg, 1.6 bpg 53 FG%, 35 3PT%
NBA-ready skill: Athleticism. Whether it’s on the offensive glass or with his shot blocking, Chriss has some of the most promising physical upside in this year’s draft class. He’s a huge threat to finish lobs inside and has the foot speed to defend smaller players on the perimeter.
Needs to improve: Defensive rebounding/IQ. While the allure of an athletic big that spreads the floor with his shooting is enticing, Chriss has a ways to go on the defensive end. He struggles to box out for his size and he’s extremely foul prone, fouling out in 15 games at Washington. Some of those flaws can be attributed to his age, but with college teams already targeting his defense last season, expect more of the same in the NBA.
The Hype: No player has seen their draft stock skyrocket more than Chriss in the past few weeks. On lottery night, few experts considered the 6-9 forward a realistic possibility for a top-5 pick, but now several mock drafts have Chriss going to the Celtics at No. 3, including Jonathon Givony at DraftExpress. One front office executive told Sean Deveney of the Sporting News that he envisions Chriss as the kind of player the Celtics would target:
“He’s a little outside-the-box,” one NBA front-office executive said. “He is a tweener, a 3-4 combo, but that is not a negative anymore. He’s Danny Ainge’s type. Out of the box.”
The Celtics’ historical comp: Jeff Green isn’t a name that excites many Celtics fans, but it’s easy to see some overlap between him and Chriss. The two players share several traits: athleticism, size, and lack of defensive rebounding.
Bust potential: It’s tough to find a bigger risk in the NBA Lottery, outside of a international unknown like Dragan Bender. Chriss has the athletic tools to be a force in the NBA, but many aspects of his game are still very raw. Past big man draft busts like Stromile Swift, Derrick Williams, and Anthony Bennett may give teams pause when they consider betting on a young unproven talent like Chriss.