NBA Draft 2012: Boston Celtics Take a Chance on Ohio State's Jared Sullinger

Stephen SheehanCorrespondent IJune 29, 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

With the 21st pick, the Boston Celtics stopped the slide of one of the nation’s best college basketball players and took Jared Sullinger of Ohio State.

Only a year ago, Sullinger was considered a top-five prospect on the best team in the country. The 6’9” power forward starred as a freshman, averaging 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.

Despite posting a similar stat line as a sophomore, the 268-pounder saw his chances of being a top pick evaporate.

According to an ESPN report, NBA doctors expressed concern about the formerly projected lottery pick’s back. With speculation that his back issues could be chronic and thus shorten his NBA career, Sullinger fell out of the lottery altogether.

Fortunately for the burly big man, the Celtics needed to bolster their frontcourt.

When healthy, Sullinger displays a tremendous arsenal of post moves, which would be a welcomed addition considering Boston had to rely on Kevin Garnett’s career renaissance to muster any points down low.

Although there are questions about Sullinger’s defense and NBA-level athleticism, he couldn’t have landed in a better situation.

Garnett is the epitome of a high-motor, defense-first superstar. If the future Hall of Famer returns to Boston, Sullinger will have the opportunity to learn from perhaps the best defender ever at the power forward position.

If Sullinger’s back flares up or he lacks the athleticism to make a true impact at the NBA level, it certainly will be a disappointment for Celtics fans who hoped the former Buckeye could take the reigns from Garnett. 

But if he maintains his fitness, improves his defense and controls the paint on offense, the Celtics will have executed an old fashioned steal on draft day.