Published on April 20th, 2012 | by Bryant West, Columnist0
2012 NBA Draft Prospect Stock Watch: Jared Sullinger
Name: Jared Sullinger
Hometown: Columbus, OH
Physicals: 6′ 9″, 280 lbs
College: Ohio State
NBA Position: Power Forward
Current Stats: 17.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 1.2 APG, 1.9 TPG, 53.1% FG, 76.8% FT
Jared Sullinger has to be kicking himself for returning to Ohio State last year.
If he had stayed in the 2011 NBA Draft, he’d have lost the chance for a National Championship and would have had to endure months of the NBA Lockout, but he’d have been a lock as a top five pick. Most likely, he’d be playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers right now, as the Cavs had the 4th overall pick and it would be hard to see them passing on the hometown hero.
But now? He’s no longer a lock for a top 10 pick, let alone top 5.
First, the good stuff. Sullinger is easily the best low post scorer in this draft. Not that that is a huge thing in itself – Thomas Robinson is a bit raw, Perry Jones stays away from the post, and even Anthony Davis needs to work on his interior scoring skills. But Sullinger has, in the last two years, been the best big in the nation in terms of scoring ability around the basket. He’s very comfortable with his back to the basket and facing guys up. He’s even got fairly consistent range, and can even hit from three.
Hit the jump for the rest of Bryant’s scouting report…
He’s also a great rebounder, and knows how to use his size (280 lbs) to block out guys and get the rebound. He’s a smart player, and has excellent hands and handles. When he was at Ohio State, teammates knew they could count on him to catch nearly any pass into the paint. His 30.39 PER ranked 10th among current college players, according to ESPN.
Sounds like a dream big man, right? Not so fast, he’s got plenty of big time question marks.
First, he’s not very athletic. His 280 lbs helps him bang around in the low post, but he’s a very underwhelming leaper. While he came into his final NCAA season with a bunch of weight lost and a good amount of muscle gained, he still struggles with conditioning at the time.
He’s going to struggle when presented with NBA defenders, especially guys who are longer or more athletic than he is… which is pretty much most power forwards. You need look no further than his last game with Ohio State, when they lost in the Final Four. Against Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey, both of whom are longer and more athletic than Sullinger, the Buckeye big man had 13 points and 11 rebounds but shot just 5-19 from the field.
He was pretty disappointing in the NCAA tournament. He averaged 17 points and 8.8 rebounds, but shot just 40 percent from the field and choked when the Buckeyes needed him most. Most upsetting was the fact that he didn’t seem to improve in anything from his freshman year. Scouts had hoped another year at Ohio State would bring out more of his potential, but at this point, it looks like his ceiling might be lower than most expected.
Sullinger is a tiny bit undersized height wise, but like Thomas Robinson, it’s not going to keep him from playing the four spot in the NBA. It will keep him from being a true center, but he makes up for it in bulk. It’s just interesting that with Robinson, his height is a well discussed concern, but with Sullinger it isn’t. Most likely, it’s because it’s easier to find holes in Sullingers’ game than in Robinson’s.
Chad Ford compared Sullinger to Kevin Love, Paul Milsap or Zack Randolph, all of which would be worth a top 10 pick easily. Then, of course, he also compared him to Glen Davis. And that’s the risk you take when you take Sullinger.
Draft Watch: As tempting as it is to pencil in Sullinger to the Cavaliers, it’s not a safe bet anymore. The Cavs aren’t exactly dying for more size, although it wouldn’t be surprising to see them take a big. But they currently sit at #5, and that is too high for Sullinger at this point.
Detroit at #9 would make sense. The Pistons have Greg Monroe, and a Sullinger/Monroe combo would give them a distinct physical size advantage and two very, very smart big men. But Sullinger isn’t an above average defender, and neither is Monroe.
New Orleans could take him with their second selection (currently slotted at #10) if they don’t get a big with their first first rounder. If they took Bradley Beal with their higher pick and then Sullinger with their second, that’d be a fairly impressive hall for the Hornets.
My personal hope for Sullinger is he goes to Milwaukee, where the Bucks really need some inside scoring. He’d be next to an athletic defender in Epke Udoh, which would help mitigate his problems, and he’d give Brandon Jennings a big target in the middle. He wouldn’t have to be the top option with Jennings and Monta Ellis, but he’d be free to roam the paint, and he’d have a very smart coach in Scott Skiles to work with him,
I can’t see Sullinger falling much past 11 or so. At that point, much like Perry Jones, you have to take him based on talent alone. The further he falls, the less and less teams should be concerned about his question marks.
Conclusion: Very solid scoring skills, but serious question marks about his athleticism cloud his NBA potential. When you hear a ceiling of Zack Randolph with a floor of Glen Davis, you have to be wary.