#21: Jared Sullinger
The Celtics were believed to be trading up for Duke shooting guard and Doc Rivers’ son, Austin Rivers, but they ended up keeping their picks at No. 21 and No. 22, with the first of which being used to draft Jared Sullinger.
A year ago Sullinger was expected to be a top-5 pick, but over the course of the 2011-2012 season other players saw their stocks rise as questions began being raised about the Celtics’ newest player.
Sullinger averaged 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game as a sophomore with the Buckeyes, and impressed scouts by hitting 40 percent of his 3-point attempts and 51.9 percent of his overall field goals.
But while Sullinger ended the season as a projected top-10 pick, Chicago’s pre-draft combine revealed a lower back problem and a severe lack of athleticism.
Sullinger finished last in the lane agility test and posted a pathetic 3.81-second mark in the ¾-court sprint. His 31-inch vertical wasn’t awful, but the fact that he managed only nine repetitions of 185 pounds in the bench press doesn’t suggest he’s going to continue to rebound at the same level in the NBA. Then, to top it all off, it turned out he’s not even quite 6-8 with his shoes off.
Obviously Celtics president Danny Ainge isn’t too concerned about Sullinger’s back or athleticism (or his height), and that belief might pay off for a team that could lose Kevin Garnett to retirement.
The Celtics needed an infusion of youth and having two picks in the first round is a good first step. If Sullinger can learn for a year behind Garnett, he could make a nice bench player. If not, Boston fans will have to be patient as he learns the NBA.