With the NBA Draft less than a week away, one of the biggest unresolved storylines is the ultimate destination of Ohio State PF Jared Sullinger.
After (wrongly) being seen as a lottery pick for most of the season, Sullinger's back was red-flagged by NBA doctors, which has sent him tumbling down draft boards.
The Sullinger slide stops here. The Ohio State forward has had a rough week: ESPN.com reported that he was "red-flagged" medically for back issues at the combine, and sources confirmed to SI.com that the situation is, in fact, a serious concern for some teams. Sullinger's agent, David Falk, downplayed the situation, but the prevailing view is that it will hurt his stock significantly. Nonetheless, the Mavericks grab him with hopes that Falk is right about his client and that they have a young, creative and productive power forward for years to come.
However, even if he were healthy, the reality is Sullinger probably won't be all that creative or productive in the NBA. At 6'9 260, he's basically an extremely undersized center since he has no lateral mobility to defend out on the perimeter.
In college, most of his value came from being able to dominate on the low block, which will not be possible in the NBA due to his lack of size or explosiveness. Just try to picture him scoring on Tyson Chandler or Dwight Howard.
As a result, his only chance of being an NBA contributor is as a face-up power forward, where he has received (foolish) comparisons to Kevin Love. Now that his back is an issue, Dallas would be very unwise to take a gamble on a player whose game doesn't complement Dirk Nowitzki's in any way.
A scouting report on Sullinger I wrote for the NBA Draft Toolbox this year:
- Best case: Toughness and skill level allows for career as starting power forward despite athletic limitations -- Luis Scola.
- Worst case: Unable to create shots efficiently in the NBA while weight issues hinder defensive effectiveness -- Sean May.
A highlight tape from his 22-point effort against Duke last season: