Utah Jazz Draft Workout: Rakeem Christmas, George de Paula, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Keifer Sykes
Also working out, but with no interviews posted: Will Cummings (Temple), K.T. Harrell (Auburn), Chris Walker (Florida), Ousmane Drame (Quinnipiac), Derrick Marks (Boise State), Royce O’Neale (Baylor), Levi Randolph (Alabama) and Jarvis Williams (Murray State)
** Syracuse – F – 6’10 – 243 – Senior – 23 years old
** What were you trying to show in the workout today?
I’m athletic. I’m aggressive. I don’t take any plays off…I can shoot the ball. A lot of people don’t think I can shoot the ball that good, so I mean, I was out there shooting the ball well and I mean, that’s something I’ve been working on for awhile now.
** Do you feel like you’re capable of playing man-to-man defense?
Yeah, I haven’t played the zone since I left [Syracuse]. I mean, that’s three months ago. But I mean, we’ve been playing five-on-five, three-on-three and stuff…I’ve been playing against stretch “fours” and just keeping people in front of me, so I think I can do it.
** Brazil – G/F – 6’6 – 197 – 19 years old
** Tenth workout
** Is the “George” Lucas Dias Silva talked about during his workout with the Jazz
** Do you have a relationship with Raul Neto?
No. He’s Brazilian but he’s four years older than me, so I don’t have contact with him.
** Did you always have big hands?
Yeah. Big hand and big feet, yeah.
** Who is your favorite Brazilian basketball player?
Oscar Schmidt, yeah. He’s Hall of Famer. He’s awesome.
** Kansas – G – 6’7 – 203 – Freshman – 19 years old
** What do you want to prove in your workouts?
You know, that I’m a complete player. That defense is first. That my offensive game has come a long way, and that, you know, I potentially can be one of the best in this league one day, you know, through hard work. I still have a long way to go, but you know, I’m just setting my foundation right now, [and] showing that I can do some of the things that people said I couldn’t.
** What skills in particular are you trying to show?
My handle. My IQ. My shot’s gotten better. You know, I’m a good defender, so. Great defender, actually, you know what I mean? So, I’m pretty confident in my game, that I can stack up with the best.
Why is defense so important to you?
I mean, that’s what every team needs to win a championship. That’s what I bring to the table, and you know, I want to help a team win a championship. So you know, whoever calls my name on draft night, I’m going to help them win a championship…That’s why defense is so important to me, because I know I can excel at the next level.
** Which NBA player do you pattern your game after?
You know, Jimmy Butler’s a guy that’s blossoming into a star right now. You know, he’s a guy I look up to. Kawhi Leonard. James Harden’s offensive skill is something that’s, you know, compare with the best. So you know, those three guys I really watch film on, and I study. And I feel I can be, you know, as good as or better than those guys.
** Did you view having to earn your way into Bill Self’s rotation as a positive, or something other than a positive?
Nothing but positive coming from that, because you know, I got a chance to learn. You know, I was used to, you know, everything being spoof–spoon-fed to me, getting everything my way. Coach never promised me anything. He made me work from Day One, and he was on my butt every single step of the way. So he made me a better, you know, basketball player, and a better young man from, you know, the things that he put me through. And I thank him and owe him the world for that…I’m here now, and coach Self is, you know, one of the biggest reasons why I’m here.
** What is your motivation?
I come from nothing. You know, I come from New Orleans. You know, we moved to Houston [after Hurricane Katrina], you know, when I was [nine years old], so I left my family behind to trace, chase my dream. And you know, I owe my dad the world for sacrificing some of the stuff that he did for me, so I’m here with a chip on my shoulder, man, and I will not be denied. You know, I’m relentless at everything that I do, and you know, you can’t — you can say stuff about me, but Imma prove you wrong 100 percent of the time. So you know, I’m just here with a smile on my for–face and you know, a calm, cool demeanor because I know that Imma be great one day.
** Wisconsin Green Bay – G – 6’0 – 167 – Senior – 21 years old
** What are you trying to show to teams that never saw you play in college?
Well, that’s what makes it special for me, I think. People are more skeptical, so it give me a chance, you know, to gain much more than the other guys that, you know, been watched and you know, had a microscope on. You know, they have 30 games in one year, or they have two years or however many years they did. So, I know for me, that gives them a chance to, you know, see my athleticism. You know, see me, you know, make shots. You know, they could see me from outside of a statistical standpoint. And then, you know, when they go to the film, I have a lot of, you know, filmwork with me playing a four-year college career.
** How do you feel like your game will carry over to the NBA?
It can carry over a ton. I think my leadership definitely. My will to win games. I mean, I’ve won a lot of games. I’ve been in a lot of games, analyzed a lot of game situations, have a lot of game experience. So I’m able to adapt to more situations with me being, you know, more of a mature guy on the floor. And then, of course, with my athleticism — I think with the league today, they kinda, you know, dial into how athletic you are with all the testing. And every team does different testing, so they dial into that and I’m able to have a good showing as well as, you know, showing on the basketball floor.
** On Kelly Oubre Jr.’s workout
He played well. He competed. Shot well at times…He had a really good workout…[Ball-handling] is still a work in progress…He’s probably gotta learn to handle it a little bit better with his off-hand…He shows confidence on the court. I mean, he’s a skilled kid…He knows how to play. He plays hard…He’s got a chance to be pretty good…All intel we have, he’s a hard worker. He didn’t struggle that much with the altitude here. He was in pretty good shape…He might be able to become a very good defender.
** On Rakeem Christmas’ workout
Rakeem, again, competed. And don’t read into anything here.* But he had a good workout, so I, what he shows you that he doesn’t show at Syracuse, he’s got the ability to knock down a 15-foot jump shot, 18-foot jump shot. He’s never been allowed to show that in Syracuse. He’s got a pretty good offensive game. We know he’s a tough kid. We know he can, he’s long. We know he can rebound. We know he can play defense. So, it was good to see him be able to get away from the basket and show some skills.
Can he play the “four” and the “five”?
Depends on what your system is…Is he gonna be a stretch four? No. Can he play against a four, guard a four? Probably yes. But he can play five also. So, he’s versatile.
* “Rakeem, again, competed” actually went “(long pause) Um (moves mouth around) (long pause) Rakeem, um, again, competed.”