A red flag on an apparent back injury has sent Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger's draft stock plummeting, so far that SportsNews.com suggests he could drop out of the top 10.
While the former Naismith winner is aware of the effect this will have on his impending contract, he is more concerned with the overall waning respect. Just two days ago, after the story broke he tweeted, "What's more important earning money or making somebody give you respect for your craft????" (@Jared_Sully0).
The lower his draft projection slides, the bigger the chip on his shoulder will be. Mix an insatiable hunger to prove doubters wrong with his raw potential, and he will be a force to reckon with in the NBA.
The injury concern draws the inevitable comparison of the productive DeJuan Blair, whose knees were a source of debate in 2009. However, Sullinger's play style is more reminiscent of Carlos Boozer. He is undersized with a 6'9", 265 frame, but can beat players in a multitude of ways.
Sullinger has one of the smoothest back-to-basket games in the draft. His soft hands make him a prime target for passes to the post, and he uses his physicality to establish a strong down low position.
As Draft Express describes: "Patient, mature and extremely polished in the post, Sullinger backs players down with brute force and has excellent footwork, being capable of finishing with a jump-hook or spinning into a smooth turnaround jumper."
He is prudent in his shot selection, making over half of his field goals (51.9 percent) and limiting himself to one perimeter shot a game. As his facing the basket game improves he will be an effective player at the mid to high post. Halfcourt offenses will benefit having Sullinger in a pick-and-roll game, where his strength will free up shots for smaller guards, and his ability to shoot or drive will provide a strong second option.
Defensively, he will fight on the post and consistently haul in rebounds. He averaged nearly a double-double throughout college (17.6 and 9.3 rebounds) and will be a highly productive front court addition for a team starting next season.