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NBA Draft 2012: Evaluating Jared Sullinger and the Top 4 Big Men

Ed IsaacsonGuest ColumnistJune 28, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: Evaluating Jared Sullinger and the Top 4 Big Men

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    My series of quick breakdowns of some of the top players in this draft and what NBA teams have noticed continues with the big men (power forwards/centers.)   

    The variations of types of these players is great at the NBA level, and this list shows many of those types.  There are big men who can stretch the floor, classic post big-men who play with their back to the basket and athletic big men who like to get out in transition. 

    What a team looks for varies based on the style of play the team prefers. 

    On the defensive end, the current NBA requires big men who can defend pick-and-rolls effectively, as well as the basics in rebounding and affecting shots. 

    Here are five guys who NBA teams have had a good look at and what they can bring into the league, as well as where they need to continue to work. 

Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina

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    Why teams want him

    Zeller is athletic for his size and as polished as any center in this draft.  He is a very strong rebounder on both ends, has above average footwork and the ability to knock down mid-range jumpers well enough to draw in defenders. 

    The thing that stands out most about Zeller is his ability to run the floor in transition and finish on the break. 

    What he needs to work on 

    Zeller has good size, but still needs to work on getting stronger.  He needs to work on his ability to step out on the perimeter and defend against quicker big men. 

    On the offensive end, he needs to continue polishing his post game by adding some variety to his post moves and being able to find open men out of double teams.

John Henson, PF, UNC

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    Why teams want him 

    Like his teammate Zeller, Henson is athletic for his size and a great rebounder on both ends of the floor. 

    He does a good job converting offensive rebounds into points and has improved his overall offensive game.  Defensively, he is a top-level shot blocker and has the ability to defend in the post and on the perimeter.

    What he needs to work on 

    Strength, strength, strength.  While he didn’t have much of a problem at the college level defending stronger players, he will need to be stronger for the NBA grind. 

    He needs to continue improving his offensive game, especially being able to hit short and mid-range jumpers consistently.

Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois

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    Why teams want him 

    A legitimate seven-footer, Leonard showed a lot of improvement his sophomore year.  Leonard is athletic and has good footwork for his size.  He has the ability to power his way to the basket or finish with nice touch around the rim. 

    Defensively, Leonard has the size to force tough shots.  Overall, Leonard should continue to improve well over the next few years.

    What he needs to work on 

    Leonard’s reputation as a teammate wasn’t great last year, and consistent effort has been a problem for him.  He is still very raw as a post player, and teams will need to assume that he will continue to improve. 

    Defensively, he really needs to improve his footwork, especially against quicker post players.

Perry Jones III, PF, Baylor

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    Why teams want him

    Jones has shown so much raw potential in flashes over his two-year career at Baylor. 

    One of the more athletic power forwards in the draft, Jones has the ability to finish in a variety of ways around the rim, and has improved his ability to take it to the basket off the dribble.  He can run the floor well and can finish in transition. 

    Playing in a zone at Baylor taught him the importance of spacing and help defense. He should be able to adapt some of that to the NBA.

    What he needs to work on 

    Everything. Jones needs to continue to develop all parts of his game, and will really need the right coach to understand where he really is in the development process.

Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State

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    Why teams want him 

    Sullinger is one of the most skilled big men in the draft. His back-to-the-basket game and ability to make plays out of the post top everyone in this class.

    He is a strong rebounder and an underrated defender.

    What he needs to work on 

    Without the back issues, Sullinger is a Top 10 pick. So, based on what doctors discovered at the NBA draft combine, he needs to really work hard on keeping his weight down and stretching.

    In his game, he still needs to become a more reliable mid-range shooter. On the defensive end, he needs to work at getting better in pick-and-roll situations and with his footwork guarding on the perimeter.

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