NBA Draft 2012: Breaking Down Ohio State Prospect Jared Sullinger

Paul GrossingerAnalyst IIMay 14, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: Breaking Down Ohio State Prospect Jared Sullinger

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    Jared Sullinger is one of the best low post stars in the 2012 NBA Draft and will be one of the top power forwards taken in the lottery on draft day.

    Sullinger has the intangibles, tenacity, low post skills and rebounding to become an NBA star, but his athleticism, tools and health could all become problems for him in his basketball career.

    Here is a breakdown of everything you should know about the Ohio State star and his chances of succeeding in the NBA.  

Intangibles

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    Sullinger is a special player who will help out any NBA team's locker room with his unselfish play and willingness to work hard to continually improve. 

    Always known as a team leader at Ohio State, Sullinger was a very mature freshman who conducted himself professionally and led his team to the Sweet 16. He became even more of a leader in the current season, keeping Ohio State on track and taking them all the way to the Final Four.

Scoring and Shooting

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    Sullinger is a surprisingly polished, skilled front-court player. Often thought of as a low post, rebounding force, Sullinger has more nuance than that in his game.

    He scored nearly 17.5 points per game in college on a mix of dunks, aggressive low post moves in the paint, and a developing mid-range game. He also shot 52 percent from the field this season despite always facing a double team.

    Sullinger improved his free throw shooting from 70 percent as a freshman to 76 percent as a sophomore, which is very good for a big man.

    However, Sullinger does not have a lot of offensive upside. He was largely the same player as a freshman and sophomore, and he already has skills and polish to take to the NBA.

    Sullinger does not have the athleticism or tools to elevate his offensive game to a superstar level, but he should be a strong power forward and a complimentary player capable of flirting with All-Star seasons.  

Defense and Rebounding

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    Sullinger has both good and bad defensive qualities. He is an ace rebounder, capable of cleaning the defensive glass on most possessions.

    Sullinger averaged nearly 10 rebounds per game in college and he could be a double-double player in the NBA. He also knows defensive positioning, will put in the effort and can take a charge.

    But he is not big or athletic enough to be an ace front-court defender. He has issues defending very tall or large power forwards, and will never be able to slide over to the center position on defense. 

Athleticism and Tools

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    Sullinger may be the most skilled and polished power forward in the draft, but his lack of pure tools and athleticism will knock him down many draft boards.

    Sullinger is smaller than most NBA power forwards and is 6'9" in shoes. He only has a 7'2" wingspan and 8'10" reach, which are both pedestrian for a player at his position. And he does not have good lateral quickness or leaping ability.

    More importantly, Sullinger's knees have been an injury concern in the past, and the possibility of chronic knee injuries could scare off NBA scouts.

    But with all that said, Sullinger is a solid athlete who can still grab rebounds and score points. So while he is no athletic phenom, teams would be foolish to knock him down too far over this concern. 

Ball Handling and Passing

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    Sullinger should work hard to improve his ball-handling and passing. He is already average in this area for his position. But as an undersized, skilled power forward, his game will be much more valuable if he can help create offense by spreading the ball around to teammates.  

    In particular, he should work on learning how to pass the ball around taller defenders, which will make him a much better, more well-rounded post player.  

Team Fit and NBA Player Comparison

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    Sullinger looks like the second-coming of Utah Jazz power forward Paul Millsap. Sullinger has more polish than Millsap did on draft day, but they have the same undersized power forward, rebounding-focused skill set.

    If Sullinger can emulate Millsap's career path, the NBA team that drafts him will be very happy.

    Which team will that be? Many NBA franchises need a stronger low post presence.

    The Blazers, who like to play LaMarcus Aldridge at center and Nicolas Batum at power forward, would be a great fit.

    The Washington Wizards could also use a high-character rebounder to replace head case Andray Blatche.