Jared Sullinger: Outside the Lottery and Future of Boston's First-Round Pick

Frances WhiteAnalyst IIAugust 27, 2012

TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 21:  Jared Sullinger #7 of the Boston Celtics poses for a portrait during the 2012 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot at the MSG Training Center on August 21, 2012 in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Six years ago, the Celtics were fortunate to get the 21st pick of the 2006 draft via trade with the (if prodded would like a do-over) Phoenix Suns. It turned out to be the steal of that draft, Rajon Rondo—who since has become a three-time All-Star, an NBA champion and a possible Celtic for life.

The only other significant name from that draft is LaMarcus Aldridge, and he is in a conference loaded with All-Star power forwards. The point is, no one expected much from this skinny kid from Kentucky with the off-beat name. 

Boston is hoping that they could get similar results from their own 21st pick of the 2012 draft, Jared Sullinger. Much was expected from Jared Sullinger prior to his decision to return for his sophomore campaign at Ohio State.

His talent is unquestionable, but his well-documented back issues caused his stock to drop outside of the lottery. 

Sully's summer league play shows he does have NBA talent and will find ways to be successful because he understands ball movement and defense is the key to wins.

Jared may find himself on the 2013 NBA All-Rookie team if he finds his way into the rotation. If that occurs and he continues on an upward arc, I fully expect Danny Ainge to trade him at the end of his rookie campaign. It will not be because of his attitude, it will because of his value as a tradeable asset.

Memories of former young talent Al Jefferson, the main cog in the trade for KG, comes to mind. Can Sullinger do the same and bring Boston the key to banner No. 18 or 19? Could it be the return of Al Jefferson?

The Utah Jazz is loaded at the 4-spot. According to NBC Sports, Derrick Favors is chomping at the bit to get more minutes. Favors did have a solid rookie season, and he may be the cause for Jefferson's exit. Another factor is that Jefferson really needs a point guard to maximize his skills and to move him above the fray.  Mo Williams doesn't do it for him, whereas Rondo could make him a perennial All-Star.

A Sullinger-Williams combo would benefit Utah more simply because Sully may end up being a very good sixth man. Remember, it was the Celtics' Red Auerbach who proved the importance of the sixth man with veteran Frank Ramsey. The most famous Celtic sixth man was "Mr. Hustle" himself, John Havlicek.

Boston can put together a package of Sullinger, Avery Bradley and a future first-round pick. Heck, it would be hard to see Bradley go, but the Celtics need to look for a legitimate backup point for Rondo anyway.

Yes, Big Al is not known for his defense; but with Fab Melo anchoring the middle, we won't have that problem. This is the type of frontcourt Ainge envisioned when he had Kendrick Perkins and Jefferson.

The return of a more experienced Jefferson and the defensive prowess of Melo and Rondo's fieriness, will ensure Boston’s future remains bright.

The 2013 free-agent class includes Al Jefferson, and no one seems to be talking about it. Utah has its backup plan with Favors, and Boston should make sure they are part of that plan by making him their offseason target.

If Sullinger happens to take the playing time away from Brandon Bass, this scenario can become Doc's reality. Tyrone Corbin can easily assimilate him into Utah's bench, with Favors taking Al's spot and Paul Millsap at the 4.  

Jared Sullinger can do what Rajon Rondo and Al Jefferson did for the Celtics: be a valued asset in the drive to maintain championship supremacy in the NBA.