The NBA Draft is the best draft in sports. Unlike the NFL Draft in that one pick can swing a franchise's fortunes, and unlike the NHL/MLB Drafts in that people actually watch it; I think the NBA draft isthe best American sports event between the time the NBA ends and college football kicks off. If you watch it for nothing else, there is always a plethora of bad suits to make Twitter jokes out of.
The truly great thing about the NBA Draft, however, is that there is always a dependable group of idiot GMs to make bone-headed moves which will look hilarious in 5-6 years. It usually helps that these same idiot GMs (Billy King, I'm looking at you), usually end up controlling the best picks in the draft. (*Charlotte Bobcats, Toronto Raptors, Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings fans nod wistfully.*)
Tonight is no different, because Jared Sullinger is going to make a lot of grown men look stupid for passing on him.
Nevermind Sullinger was a lock to be a top 5 pick last year, and in coming back to receive an extra March Madness kick to the testicles, he has already cost himself millions of dollars. Nevermind that Jared Sullinger's back problems were probably leaked to the media by a team hoping Sullinger slides to them in the middle of the first round. For me, the icing on the cake comes from the fact Jared Sullinger wasn't even invited to the NBA Draft.
Granted, I'm biased, but the idea that J.J.'s kid brother isn't a top-18 prospect in this draft is hilarious.
Jared Sullinger could be being "red flagged" for many of the same reasons Brandon Roy's career ended prematurely. Sure, Brandon Roy's knees forced him into an early retirement (which he's still trying to battle back from and may have an NBA return yet), but take a gander at Brandon Roy's 2006 draft class. Who in that class has had a better career than Brandon Roy? For my money, the only two players I'd take over Brandon Roy's rather shortened career is Rajon Rando (*gag*) and Rudy Gay. Six seasons of Jared Sullinger is better than six without.
And hell, remember DeJuan Blair, the man without any ACLs or MCLs? Sure, he faded down the stretch this year, but I think his career has already been better than 85% of the players plucked out of the second round in the NBA Draft. I would wager he's already become the greatest NBA player without a single ACL or MCL.
I understand the case against Jared Sullinger well enough. In today's NBA, executives are infatuated with things like "length" and "explosiveness", two things which Jared Sullinger has never been accused of having. On top of that, NCAA production often means little in a man's league like the NBA.
Will Sullinger ever be the best player on a championship winning team? I doubt that, but I think as long as his back holds up he will be in the NBA for as long as he wants. If his rebounding can translate to the NBA, and he can expand his range beyond the 3-point arc (something which will be easier now that he's not wasting his time in biology class), then Sullinger's basketball smarts will make him a key cog on a winning team. Championship teams win with great players, but they also need role players who know how to grind.
I think Jared Sullinger could be a premiere member of the latter group, which means there is no way he should slip out the lottery, but he probably will, because again, NBA teams are largely run by idiots. That's not the fault of Jared Sullinger, but they'll certainly continue to look that way when he's dropping double doubles on these same fools that doubted him.