NBA Draft 2012: Jared Sullinger Reportedly Flagged for Nagging Back Issues

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2012

After apparently addressing concerns about his size and ability at the NBA draft combine, a new set of doubts have cast a shadow over Jared Sullinger's draft stock, according to ESPN draft guru Chad Ford:

Just filed to ESPN: Sources: Jared Sullinger medically red-flagged by some NBA doctors for back issues

— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 18, 2012

Of course, we still don't know just how serious these issues are, but the news doesn't sound especially promising thus far. Again, via Chad Ford:

A number of NBA team doctors have reviewed the information from the NBA and have told their front office staff that Sullinger's back issues could shorten his NBA career and some have advised their teams not to draft him in the first round.

Ford aptly draws comparison to DeJuan Blair, who fell to the San Antonio Spurs in 2009's second round after it was revealed that his knees could experience chronic problems throughout his NBA career.

So far, San Antonio has gotten lucky with Blair.

But, that is unlikely to reassure the lottery teams previously entertaining the prospect of drafting Sullinger.

The power forward from Ohio State certainly has the skill set to survive in the NBA. But, the risk of a shortened career will call his suitors' attention to the opportunity cost associated with passing up less risky investments.

With a bounty of young prospects making compelling cases to be selected in the lottery or shortly thereafter, Sullinger becomes an unnecessary gamble.

While that certainly comes as terrible news for Sullinger and his family, it could be a blessing in disguise.

Any number of playoff teams would surely be more than happy to take a chance on a guy who's proven his talent in two years at the collegiate level. With those teams primarily making their selections in the latter stages of the first round, Sullinger could slide right into their hands.

The burly forward averaged over 17 points a game in both of those campaigns, and he's a double-double waiting to happen. He's also an efficient scorer with an emerging post-up game.

Even if he lacks the overwhelming athleticism that typifies big men at the NBA level, he has the strength and tenacity to fight for rebounds. In a best-case scenario, that could translate into a Carlos Boozer kind of career.

In the worst-case scenario, his back problems might prevent us from seeing what kind of career he'd have in the first place.