Jared Sullinger was the centerpiece of Sweet 16 team as a freshman and a Final Four team as a sophomore. He is as polished a low post scorer as any draft prospect in the last three or four years and yet, as Crossover Chronicle’s Wendell Maxey points out, he is without question the most scrutinized lottery prospect in this year’s draft. Fortunately for Sullinger, he isn’t letting his critics get to him and even defended his game and athletic ability (or lack thereof) to Bay Area News Group’s Marcus Thompson.
Everybody’s like ‘I can’t score, I’m not athletic enough to play in the NBA.’ You look at Kevin Love, he’s not that athletic. You look at Zach Randolph, he’s not that athletic. It doesn’t matter. If you can score in the post, you can score in the post. It doesn’t matter if you’re athletic or not.
Sullinger is right and provided a couple of great examples of guys who barely leave their feet when they play, don’t have ideal size and yet manage to have a huge impact on the game. Some other great examples of not so athletic All-Star or starting Power Forwards are David West and Luis Scola. Randolph, Love, West and Scola were all doubted when they came in to the league, but their skill, basketball IQ and most of all work ethic have put them in positions to succeed. Another important part of Sullinger’s development will be a team trying to shoe horn him in to a position that doesn’t suit him. Don’t make him guard the other team’s best big guy. Don’t ask him to be your defensive anchor.
A perfect place for him would be New Orleans. Anthony Davis and Sullinger would compliment each other perfectly. Having coached undersized bigs like David West and Carl Landry, head coach Monty Williams would figure out how to maximize Sullinger’s abilities on offense and defense. Having Davis around would mean that Sullinger wouldn’t be tasked with stepping out on the perimeter too often and staying in front of guys.
You can doubt Jared Sullinger. It’s completely understandable. But he’s skilled, he’s smart and from the sound of it, he has a chip on his shoulder. Any team that gets him is going to get a good player who is going to help a team win games right away.