NBA Draft Rumors: Is Jared Sullinger Even Worth a First-Round Pick?

Matt ShetlerCorrespondent IJune 26, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 31:  Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts after the Buckeyes lose to the Kansas Jayhawks 64-62 during the National Semifinal game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on March 31, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Just a year ago, there was no doubt that Ohio State sophomore Jared Sullinger would be among the handful of picks at the top of the lottery in the 2012 NBA draft.

Fast-forward a few months and it is debatable whether or not Sullinger is even worthy of a first-round pick at all.

There were questions anyway surrounding Sullinger’s lack of athleticism forcing him to drop some in the draft anyway, but after a medical red flag was raised last week, there’s a good bet that Sullinger slides out of the lottery entirely.

The NBA is banking on it, as ESPN’s Andy Katz reported that the Ohio State product has not been invited to the draft by the league. Instead of being in the green room at the Prudential Center in Newark, Sullinger will be watching the draft from a Columbus restaurant.

NBA executive vice president Stu Jackson told "He's more likely to go in the teens or in the 20s," Jackson said. "We continue to have contact with teams, but at this late date we don't anticipate inviting him."

It’s going to be much later than Sullinger likely ever anticipated, but eventually the rewards will outweigh the risks and Sully’s name will be called.

I’ve always had my doubts on how Sullinger would perform against bigger and more athletic NBA defenders, but later in the draft it’s worth taking a chance on his post game, which is more advanced than any player in the draft.

Sullinger can score and rebound, averaging 17.3 points and 9.7 boards per game throughout his college career. He also has a very soft touch around the rim, shooting 53 percent from the floor during his two seasons.

Yet while there are more athletic big men with the potential to do bigger things in the NBA than Sullinger, some team is going to take a chance on him late in the first round and get a pretty good player.

I never felt Sullinger would be an All-Star-caliber NBA big man, but he can do enough to forge out a pretty good NBA career.

No matter where he is drafted.