Jared Sullinger: Pistons Shouldn't Trade Back into 1st Round for Risky OSU Star

Zach KruseSenior Analyst 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

Considering the medical red flags that have been tied to Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger over the last week, it should come as no surprise that the Detroit Pistons would have zero interest in taking him with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. 

But according to the same report from Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press that established that fact, the Pistons would rather entertain the idea of moving back into the first round to select Sullinger, who is expected to slide in this week's draft.

Detroit should avoid that risk, however. If the team can get a big man with the ninth overall pick, there's no reason to give up any kind of compensation to get an injury risk like Sullinger. 

Ellis tweeted his findings after the Pistons' workouts Tuesday morning.

"#Pistons workout: [John] Henson solid and [Jared] Sullinger off board for ninth pick," Ellis tweeted. "Possible they could trade back into late first round for Sullinger."

ESPN.com reported last week that Sullinger had been "red-flagged" by NBA doctors after undergoing a number of tests at the NBA combine. Back problems were found that "could shorten his NBA career," according to the report. 

Sullinger missed two games last season with back spasms. 

Ever since the report surfaced, Sullinger has dropped like a lead weight down NBA draft boards. 

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News reported that the Golden State Warriors, who hold the No. 7 overall pick, had taken Sullinger off their draft board. ESPN.com also reported that Sullinger wasn't invited to the "Green Room" of Thursday's live draft, which means the NBA doesn't predict Sullinger will be taken during the first 15 picks. 

ESPN's Chad Ford dropped Sullinger all the way down to No. 20 in his most recent mock draft, and even there Ford wasn't sure the reward outweighed the risk. 

NBADraft.net was even harsher on Sullinger, dropping him several spots to No. 22 overall to the Boston Celtics

Earlier in the draft process, Sullinger was considered a lock to be taken in the first 10 or 12 picks. 

But now, teams like the Pistons have an easy choice and a more difficult one. Passing on him early is a no-brainer, especially in the top 10. But what about a deal to get back into the first round? At what point does the reward truly outweigh the risk of taking Sullinger?

The Pistons hold the No. 39 and No. 44 picks in the second round. More than likely, Detroit would have to move up at least 10-15 picks to have a chance at Sullinger at the end of the first round. 

Given other factors, it may be hard to come up with an argument for making the move. 

Sullinger is undersized at the power forward position—he's a short 6'9"—and the Pistons currently have a number of undersized players on their roster. Sullinger has a wide body at 260 pounds, but he'll play under the rim and won't have a big impact on either end of the floor. 

And if the Pistons get UNC's John Henson at No. 9, there wouldn't be a huge need to move back into the first round to get another frontcourt player. Henson is a better athlete who fits better into this era of NBA basketball. He needs to put on some weight, but Henson's ceiling dwarfs what Sullinger could provide, even as a late first-rounder.

The idea of moving up into the first round is always something to consider in the NBA, where finding impact players in the second round is difficult. But moving back into the first to get Sullinger seems like a stretch here for the Pistons. 

Detroit will get its frontcourt player at No. 9 overall, and compensating another team to get such an injury risk like Sullinger doesn't appear worth it.