With the first of their two picks in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics selected Jared Sullinger out of Ohio State. The power forward fell down the big board due to injury concerns, but he could be a huge steal for the Celtics.
A year ago, Sullinger was widely considered to be a lottery pick. This year, he fell all the way to No. 21 overall due to health concerns (primarily over his back). Now, he'll get a chance to learn how to play the game from one of the best NBA big men of the past decade in Kevin Garnett.
Sullinger is a bit of an odd pick for the Celtics, who will be looking to get younger and more athletic. While the former Buckeye does help the team get younger, he doesn't help at all as far as athleticism goes.
As a player who basically never plays above the rim, Sullinger doesn't seem to make much sense for the Celtics. He's extremely skilled, though, and perhaps will be able to overcome that deficiency by being more skilled and savvy than his competition.
In fact, Sullinger is probably the best pure, low-post scorer in this draft. He has all the post moves you could expect an incoming rookie to have, and he also has considerable skill when it comes to facing up and scoring.
His athleticism is nonexistent, but Sullinger is very strong. He'll be able to get position down low when he wants to on most of the NBA. He also plays very physically on defense, even though he lacks the quickness to really excel on that end of the floor. That willingness to bang will earn the respect of his teammates in Boston.
Sullinger's strength also is what makes him such a good rebounder. Despite the fact that he is a bit small for the position, Sullinger can rebound with the best of this class; he averaged 9.2 rebounds in his sophomore season at Ohio State.
Another attribute Sullinger has that will help him earn his teammates' respect is his high basketball IQ. He won't be a problem child for Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. He knows how to play the game, and he'll fall right in line with what they want to do as a team.
Sullinger may be a questionable pick for this team, especially considering the health issues concerning his back. However, he is a good, young player with a good head on his shoulders who will end up being a big reward for the risk the Celtics have taken.
He can score in the low post, he has some length and he knows how to play the game of basketball. Sullinger will give the Celtics everything he has, and that's why they picked him. He'll be a valuable bench contributor in the years to come and possibly even a starter eventually.