Phoenix Suns NBA Draft Series: Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State

Sully going to work in the post. That poor Michigan guy doesn't have a chance.


With the NBA Draft fast approaching on June 28th, we at Bright Side of the Sun want to cover all the bases regarding the possible players who the Phoenix Suns could draft with the #13th pick.

General Manager Lance Blanks has expressed his high opinion of this year's wing crop, and the Suns certainly do need help on the perimeter. However, there might also be spot opening in the frontcourt as reserve center Robin Lopez is a restricted free agent and is not guaranteed to return. With the recently reported lottery promises to shooting guards Dion Waiters and Austin Rivers, there is a very good chance a top ten caliber big men will be available for the Suns at 13.

Today's draft coverage focuses on one of those big men that could slide to the Suns: power forward Jared Sullinger of the Ohio State University Buckeyes.

Sullinger was a top-flight recruit coming out of high school who lived up to the hype as a freshman at Ohio State, posting a double-double and leading the Buckeyes to a 34-3 record and an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. If Sullinger had decided to enter the NBA Draft after that one year, he likely would have been taken in the top 5.

Instead, Sullinger returned to the Buckeyes, put up similar stats and led the team on another Sweet Sixteen run. Sullinger showcased the same toughness and strength that made him a force on the block, but he also showed expanded range on his jump shot.

So then why could Sullinger be available for the Suns at 13? Make the jump to find out.

So who is Jared Sullinger?

  • Measurables: 6-foot-9 in shoes, 268 lbs., 7-foot-1.25 wingspan
  • Position: Power Forward/Center
  • Age: 20 years old (two years of college)
  • College: Ohio State University
  • Accolades: 2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, 2011 Big Ten Tournament MVP, 2011 and 2012 Consensus First Team All-American
  • NBA Comparisons: Best case - Luis Scola, Kevin Love, Carlos Boozer; Worst case - Glen Davis, DeJuan Blair

Per Game Stats:

Season School Conf G MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2010-11 Ohio State Big Ten 37 31.7 6.0 11.1 .541 0.1 0.3 .250 5.1 7.2 .704 10.2 1.2 1.0 0.5 1.6 2.4 17.2
2011-12 Ohio State Big Ten 37 30.4 6.2 11.9 .519 0.4 1.1 .400 4.7 6.2 .768 9.2 1.2 1.2 1.1 1.9 2.9 17.5
Career Ohio State 74 31.0 6.1 11.5 .530 0.3 0.7 .365 4.9 6.7 .733 9.7 1.2 1.1 0.8 1.8 2.7 17.3
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CBB: View Original Table
Generated 6/18/2012.

Advanced Stats:

Season School Conf G MP PER TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg OWS DWS WS
2010-11 Ohio State Big Ten 37 1172 30.3 .591 .545 14.1 26.0 20.1 7.4 2.0 2.0 9.9 27.0 126.0 89.6 3.9 4.2 8.2
2011-12 Ohio State Big Ten 37 1123 30.2 .591 .538 12.4 23.9 18.2 8.6 2.3 4.0 11.5 27.9 121.8 85.8 4.1 5.2 9.3
Career Ohio State 74 2295 30.3 .591 .541 13.3 25.0 19.2 8.0 2.1 3.0 10.7 27.4 123.9 87.7 8.1 9.4 17.5
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CBB: View Original Table
Generated 6/18/2012.

Strengths

Sullinger is a beast on the block and a monster on the boards. At 6-foot-9, Sullinger has a wide, strong base and the knowledge to use it to his advantage. His entire game is based on positioning. He has a Kevin Love-like knack for being in the right place at the right time when a shot goes up, and uses his body very well to secure the rebound.

Sullinger is more polished in the post than most college big men, which is what makes him so tough to defend. He has excellent footwork and a soft touch around the basket. He's a bruiser who loves contact and has the strength to finish through it. He has the ability to establish deep post position, and is tough to stop when he gets that close to the basket. If he can continue to refine his game and add another move or two to his arsenal he'll be an excellent offensive option.

Sullinger complements his blossoming post game with an improving outside shot. He has a nice stroke from mid-range and shoots free throws at a good rate for a big man. This season Sullinger even extended his range to the college 3-point arc, hitting 40 percent of his attempts from deep on the year. He also shows a little bit of a face-up game, which allows him to be effective both from the low and high post.

While he's not a point-forward by any stretch of the imagination, he is a willing passer who will kick it out of double-teams, which often results in hockey assists and open shots for other teammates. He also improved as a defender in his second year and is a solid positional post defender.

Weaknesses

Sullinger's biggest problem heading into the NBA is that he's not overly athletic, nor is he very tall for an NBA big. Short, earth-bound and slow-footed is not a good combination. The results of his athletic test were very poor at the combine. He was the slowest of all the power forwards that participated, and his max vertical leap was fourth to last at just 31 inches. He also did poorly in the bench press with only 9 reps, tied for second worst. His conditioning is not the greatest either, as even though he lost about ten pounds between his freshman and sophomore year his body fat percentage is still high at 10.7%.

We saw a glimpse of what might happen to him in the NBA when he played against college teams with more length in the froncourt. For example, he went just 5-19 with 13 points against Kansas and their 7-footer Jeff Withey. He gets his shot blocked far too often around the basket. And there are times where he just throws himself into the defense hoping for a foul call or that the shot would go in. He needs to play under control more and make smart decisions around the basket. Sullinger will have to prove he can still be effective when he's not playing against guys his size or smaller. His lack of athleticism also hurts him on defense, as he's not going to be much of a rim protector.

But even more troubling is that his back was medically red-flagged by doctors at the combine. Sullinger missed some time as a sophomore due to back problems, and this latest development could scare some teams off.

Conclusion

Sullinger isn't the prototypical big man that we have seen succeed in Phoenix's system. While his jumper is improving, he's much more of an inside threat than a stretch four. Plus, with the drafting of Markieff Morris last season and the wholes in other areas, a power forward may not hold as much value for the Suns in this draft.

However, he's a darn good player and based on talent alone should be gone long before the Suns pick. Should the Suns' trainers sign off on Sullinger's back, the Suns should take a long look at drafting him at 13 if he falls.

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