He’s faced questions about his height, his weight and his mobility. Now former Ohio State big man and projected NBA lottery pick Jared Sullinger has a new concern he’ll need to dispel for teams looking to draft him. According to ESPN.com’s Chad Ford, Sullinger was red flagged by NBA doctors because of a bad back.
“A number of NBA team doctors have reviewed the information from the NBA and have told their front office staff that Sullinger’s back issues could shorten his NBA career, and some have advised their teams not to draft him in the first round.”
At first glance, this is terrible news for Sullinger. If teams think back issues could actually shorten his career then he could slide pretty fast, much like DeJuan Blair did after concerns about his lack of ACLs caused him to slide from the late lottery where he was projected to the middle of the second round. However, Sullinger’s father Satch and his agent David Falk both said that his back issues stem from extremely tight hamstrings.
“He had a bulging area that was due to his hamstring and quads being so tight,” Satch Sullinger told ESPN.com senior college basketball writer Andy Katz in a phone call Monday afternoon. “It pulled on his hip flexor and he’s been taking care of it to loosen it. You can call it a red flag if you want. But it’s tight hamstring and tight quads. He’s been to doctors, he’s doing yoga and deep tissue massage. The flexibility is helping take the pressure off the area. We’ve got nothing to hide. At this stage it’s all about what they can’t do. Jared is a skilled player. A two-time All-American. He can play.”
Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony tweeted yesterday that Sullinger’s back concerns weren’t new and that they will make some teams more hesitant than others to draft him, citing J.J. Reddick as another guy who had injury questions but still was drafted in the lottery. I think this will scare teams like Golden State who don’t want to risk their lottery pick on someone with injury concerns (they just draft guys with skill and maturity concerns), but teams like New Orleans and Portland, who have two lottery picks will probably take the risk if they really like Sullinger. Even if he does slide out of the lottery I could easily see a team like Houston (picks 14 and 16) or Boston (pick 21 and 22) taking him because again, there’s too much talent there to pass up especially if you have an extra pick.