Coming into draft night Jared Sullinger was worried. He knew he would be drafted, but after a lackluster sophomore season and being red flagged by doctors the slide began. Going from a sure fire lottery pick to 21st would have been a major blow to most players; but for the former Buckeye it is a huge positive in his young career.
The biggest problem for Sullinger is his height. He is 6’9’’ which in college is perfect for a power forward, his natural position, but in the NBA it may be a little bit of a problem. Sullinger has a weak outside shot, is not the most athletic of guys, and is too short to contribute as a starter. So why did the Celtics draft him?
With their pick of Sully the Celtics got what every NBA team needs from a role player, a driven, passionate player who can will his team to victory. Until he can develop into a more complete player Sullinger has not chance of starting for the Boston Celtics, or any team for that matter.
So the Celtics get a talented young backup to Kevin Garnett and someone who has been compared to Big Baby Davis in terms of playing style. But the real benefactor from this pick is Sully.
If he had left at the end of his freshman season as many expected Sullinger would have been drafted in the top 5 of the draft. This would have put the pressure on him to start and contribute from day one, a job he would not have been able to deliver on. Still an incomplete player now he has time to develop between one of the NBA’s top 10 power forwards of all time for a couple of seasons before being expected to take on a larger role.
When the time comes for KG to retire, Sullinger will be ready and can take on a role with a younger Boston Celtics squad. Perhaps the biggest positive though is a chance to work with Doc Rivers. A more defensive minded coach could give the rookie a chance to develop into more of a Serge Ibaka style player for Boston.
For most players dropping out of lottery range would be devastating, for Sullinger it could be a defining moment that changes the way he is remembered.