NBA Draft 2012: Jared Sullinger Will Prove the Doubters Wrong

Clint EilandAnalyst IJune 26, 2012

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 24:  Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates after defeating the Syracuse Orange during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball East Regional Final at TD Garden on March 24, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

With the recent news that Sullinger was not invited to the draft, many people wondered if he would ever be able to prove himself in the NBA. After all, reports of back spasms have most likely scared teams into picking him, causing a slide that many did not think possible.

People are severely overlooking him and will realize it in a couple of years when he's putting up good numbers in the NBA.

First, let's get this medical red flag out of the way.

It is true that he has had incidents in the past with his back, but he is already working on it (yoga, deep tissue massages) and has garnered praise from his coaches, who said that he is moving as good as ever. 

Even if those problems don't totally clear up, they won't mean a super-short and injury-filled career. Worst-case scenario, he's in the league for 5-8 years before injuries force him to bow out. Not saying that will happen, but that's the worst-case scenario.

But how about the best-case scenario? That is what most teams want to know.

To start, Sullinger is known to be a hard worker on the court. He has had weight issues in the past, but he shattered those concerns when he showed up to practice last year, having lost 16 pounds. In fact, the main reason he wanted to come back to Ohio State was in an effort to win a championship. While that didn't happen, he still proved to be a leader on the court.

Any team seeking a guy who can immediately contribute and become a leader should take a good, long look at Sullinger.  

Sullinger is a very complete player, which many have overlooked. Offensively, there may not be a big man with better post moves in the draft. 

He uses his body and frame to really push guys around under the basket and bully his way into the paint. This helped him put up nearly 18 points and nine rebounds per game. From spin moves to beautiful hook shots, Sullinger can do it all down low.

However, his offensive game isn't just limited to his post game. He can also contribute from behind the arc, where he makes 45 percent of his shots (36 percent on jump shots overall). The good thing is that he can control the urge to jack these up, as he only puts up one three pointer per game.

One part of Sullinger's game that has progressively gotten better is his defense. He has averaged a steal per game and increased his blocks from .5 to 1.1 per game. While it may not be too drastic of a jump, it still shows improvement. 

To be fair though, Sullinger does need to improve his defensive game. He lacks good agility, which allows him to get beat when guarding someone. Hopefully training and good coaching will fix this. 

One of Sullinger's greatest assets is his basketball IQ. He was a leader while at Ohio State, and is a great court manager. He knows when to post up or pass, when to block or foul, and in fact helps out his defense.

That's because he can force guys to take shots that he knows he can contest, which makes up for his below-average agility. 

Overall, Sullinger is one of the best basketball players in the draft. If things turn out his way, he could be a Zach Randolph-type with better basketball IQ. The problem is, external things are getting in the way and clouding his talents. 

Have no doubt though: Sullinger will get his chance in the NBA, and he will prove the critics wrong.