When news broke on Monday that Ohio State power forward Jared Sullinger had been medically red-flagged with a back issue, you could pretty much hear the footsteps of numerous NBA executives running away from drafting him. At the same time, you could only imagine the smiles of other team execs sitting outside of the lottery hoping that the All-American falls to them. According to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, the Boston Celtics are one of those teams licking their chops for Sullinger.
Jared Sullinger has been red-flagged by NBA doctors, who cited concerns with his back, and most GMs feel that it will, in fact, cause his draft stock to slide. Sullinger’s lack of overall athleticism already had created some doubts, and perceived medical issues certainly won’t help. That said, the Celtics reportedly wouldn’t mind giving him a shot, and might look to trade up (if necessary) to do so. Right now, they own the Nos. 21 and 22 picks in the first round.
Amico mentions that the last player to get red-flagged before the draft like this was San Antonio's DeJuan Blair, who dropped to the second round, has had little to no issues and has been a contributor to one of the best teams in the NBA since entering the league. I'm not saying that Sullinger is going to end up the same way, but it's just something to think about.
Regardless, Sullinger is someone that Danny Ainge should be looking at and doing so very closely. He's a strong, smart player that has an extremely good post game and has improved his game outside of the paint. He's a good rebounder and a decent defender. He might lack the explosiveness and ridiculous athleticism that guys like Anthony Davis or Thomas Robinson possess, but Sullinger still finds ways to get the job done.
Just about every mock draft had Sullinger going in the top ten before news of his medical issue came out. It's now likely that he'll fall to the second half of the first round, which is exactly what the Celtics would love should Ainge feel that the injury issue isn't that serious and that Sullinger's game would fit with what the Celtics are trying to do. If they wanted to package both the 21st and 22nd picks to move up a few spots and ensure they got him, I'd be okay with that. Although Doc Rivers doesn't normally play rookies significant minutes, Sullinger could be a guy that could come in and make an immediate impact.
(h/t to Celtics Life)