Jared Sullinger Will Make Celtics Management Look Brilliant or Foolish

Tyler EmkenContributor IIIJune 30, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 31:  Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes shoots the ball over Jeff Withey #5 of the Kansas Jayhawks in the first half 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 Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

On Thursday night, the Boston Celtics took Ohio State power forward Jared Sullinger as the 21st pick in the draft. The pick has been called everything from great...to not so great.  

In my mind, the Sullinger pick will either be considered an intelligent, gutty pick up or an utter mistake. Sullinger does have skills, but has some major athletic deficiencies. Let me break it down for you...


The Good

Sullinger was a projected top five Lottery Pick if he would have come out last year. Simply put, the kid can score. Sullinger averaged 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds during his time at OSU, making him a double-double threat about every night.

The Celtics struggled last year with scoring from the low block. Even Kevin Garnett mostly shot jumpers to get his points in the playoffs last year. With Garnett potentially retiring, the Celtics could have had a giant void in size, which explains why they drafted both Sullinger and Syracuse's Fab Melo.

While Melo gives you defense and rebounding, Sullinger gives a team that ability to score in the paint.

The highlight video I have posted does a good job at telling Sullinger's story. Sullinger does most of his work with his back to the basket. He is a patient player with excellent footwork on the block. He doesn't finish above the rim often, mostly using an array of post moves and his size to get into position to score.

Sullinger can shoot jumpers as well, helping to round out his offensive game.  

Sullinger finishes well at the rim, which will be a godsend for the best playmaking point guard in the league, Rajon Rondo. If Rondo gets Sullinger into the right spots, he can elevate Sullinger's game far beyond what he would be able to do on other teams.  Garnett has reportedly signed an extension, which will make the Celtics front court even more viable.  If Sullinger is going to succeed with anyone, it will be with the C's.



The Bad

There are the well-publicized reports of Sullinger having potential back problems. It is honestly hard to say how this would affect Sullinger's career as a Celtic. It could be minor and be fixed with rest and rehab. He could have to undergo surgery.  

However, the injuries are the least of my concerns when it comes to his NBA potential. His height is a of a concern. Sullinger was able to score mostly because he weighs in at 265 pounds. He was able to push around smaller guys on the block using his strength and size while playing in the Big Ten.

However, in the NBA, there are going to be guys as big as he is and that have a couple inches on him as well.

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 24:  Jared Sullinger #0 and William Buford #44 of the Ohio State Buckeyes of the Ohio State Buckeyes react after a play against the Syracuse Orange during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball East Regional Final at TD Garden on March 24, 2012
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

This all leads me to my biggest gripe about Sullinger: his lack of a vertical leap and overall explosiveness. Sullinger will never, ever beat you off the dribble. That was true at OSU and will be doubly so in the big leagues.


The highlight video shows you his vertical, or lack thereof. NBA players will be able to expose those weaknesses far more often than his former Big Ten rivals.

I think that Sullinger will be able to overcome his physical short comings on offense, but what about defensively? He isn't particularly quick and is basically a non-threat as a shot blocker. His defensive assignment will be the hardest to determine. There are power forwards out there that are far more athletic than he is and he is undersized to consistently play center on the defensive end.

Zach Randolph of the Memphis Grizzlies lacks a vertical as well, but always seems to have a knack to get himself into position to make a play. Does Sullinger have that at the NBA level?

Sullinger has proven to be an intelligent player at OSU. He will need his mind to help him at the next level.


The Verdict

After a bit of thought, I think that Sullinger can be a productive NBA player.

A super star? I do not see that happening, but I do think he can produce. Being paired up with Rondo on the offensive end could make him a force. Defensively, Fab Melo and Kevin Garnett can help cover some of his short comings down low.  

In the end, history will show that the Celtics picked up a productive player in Jared Sullinger.