Jared Sullinger is one of the more prominent prospects in this year’s basketball draft.
Well, that was before the breaking news that Sullinger’s problems with his back may be more serious than first speculated. Reportedly, doctors who looked at Sullinger’s back at the NBA combine might be suggesting that back problems could shorten his career. These reports even state that some team doctors have told their teams to pass on him in the first round.
Sullinger has been a dominant force for the Ohio State Buckeyes. An All-American, the big man certainly lived up to the hype, taking the Buckeyes to the precipice of greatness by leading them to the final four.
Responding to the report, OSU coach Thad Matta told ESPN,
“Jared is fine. He’s moving better than I’ve ever seen him move.”
Obviously, Matta is trying to protect his player by doing some major damage control. There’s no way to tell if teams should be treating Sullinger’s back problems as a medical red flag, but usually where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
Still, the report just says that his back problems could shorten his career, but what does that mean? By how much might it shorten his career? If he can play at least 6 to 8 really good years, then it still might be worth taking the risk and drafting the big man.
Many fans might argue that a bad team should pass on him, if these reports are correct, since they need to build for the long term and can’t afford to take this kind of risk. Others might be remembering young stars that had bright careers derailed because of health problems. Stars such as Brandon Roy and Greg Oden are often the examples that come to the minds of fans.
Fine, there’s some logic to that thinking and maybe he could fall into the late twenties in the draft. It would be shocking if he stayed on the board much longer. His strength and prowess would certainly help a team on the verge of a championship and might give that team that last push it needs to be good enough to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy.
The teams drafting in the mid-twenties can afford to take a risk on someone as talented as Sullinger. He could end up being the the final piece of a championship roster.