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Much like Perry Jones III—a player who also stayed in school for another year—Jared Sullinger’s draft stock has taken a huge hit.
Last year I was always of the belief that Sullinger was an overrated talent. Now, a lot of people are on that same bandwagon. For the record, I believe Perry Jones III has more talent and more potential; however, that doesn’t mean he’s a better fit for the Cavs.
Sullinger does one thing really well, and that is he rebounds the ball. That’s what everyone forgets to recognize when they’re picking his game apart. You’ve heard of “pure scorers” before, but have you heard of “pure rebounders?” Neither have I. But if I were to label Sullinger anything that is what it would be.
He only averaged nine rebounds per game at Ohio State, but that can be a bit misleading. He was almost asked to do too much for the Buckeyes and, honestly, it’s why he stormed onto the national scene as a freshman in the first place.
Sullinger improved his jump shot from last season to this, but the fact of the matter is that Sullinger probably isn’t all that cut out to be a scorer on the offensive end. He is a below-the-rim player whose bread and butter is rebounding, shot blocking and put backs.
That isn’t a bad thing, though. That’s because we all know Sullinger is a big, big kid. He will be hard to move off his spot even for players at the next level. The problem again, though, is that Sullinger plays the four. The Cavs already have Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao.
(Here’s my thought: Keep Tristan Thompson at center (I see a future Ben Wallace/Serge Ibaka), start Sullinger at the four, sign Eric Gordon or O.J. Mayo, re-sign Antawn Jamison, and have Alonzo Gee and Anderson Varejao come off the bench. I’d say that looks like a pretty decent seven-man rotation for a team.)
With the addition of Sullinger, suddenly the Cavs have a backcourt of pure scorers (assuming they get a shooting guard) and a front court with a nice mix of above average rebounders and shot blockers. This is essentially the type of team Oklahoma City is, and it has proven to work very well for them.
The Thunder have basically taken full grasp of the “there is only one ball” concept and perfected it. That’s basically what the Cavs would be doing by drafting Sullinger and signing a scorer like Mayo or Gordon. And yes, Mayo or Gordon is a realistic possibility because the Cavs will have a ton of cap room this summer.
Sullinger’s rebounding prowess actually makes him one of the safer bets for a team like the Cavs. That’s because the Cavs already know what they have in Kyrie Irving and are not as hard pressed to go out and find “their star.” That’s the reason Sullinger’s stock has taken such a hit, because we’ve pretty much determined he won’t be that franchise changing star that every lottery team is trying to covet. Rarely do you ever find a power forward that is.
Plus, he is a born and raised Ohioan.
If I’m the Cavs and I’m sitting somewhere in the 5-8 range, I’m taking Sullinger. Again, unless one of the next three guys is still on the board.