When we last looked at Terrence Jones of Kentucky, we noted the significance of returning to school to become a more efficient offensive player. Last year, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger made national news by deciding to forgo the draft and millions of dollars in a rather weak big man draft. His goal was to improve and to lead his team to the Final Four.
He’s done both.
What I love most about Sullinger is his combination of a strong mid-range shooting game along with sound, polished post moves and counters. He’s not the best athlete in the world, but his footwork is outstanding. That allows him to move around defenders and sneak shots through the hoop.
When you look at Sullinger’s supporting cast you appreciate what he should be able to do at the next level.
Ohio State as a team is 35th in the nation in assists and are 12th overall in field-goal percentage with Sullinger leading the team at 53%. This tells me that Sullinger forces defenses to help on the block, and that leads to a tremendously effective inside-out game. At the next level, however, if Sullinger isn’t surround by shot makers then you can defend him with a more athletic power forward who can force Sullinger to face up without having to double.
Speaking of facing up, again, that’s my favorite part of Sullinger’s game. He shoots the mid-range efficiently and reminds me of a young Kurt Thomas, one of the most underrated pick-and-pop players over the last 20 years in the NBA. Thomas was automatic from 15 feet from elbow to elbow. If you pair Sullinger with another really sound post player and an explosive poing guard you have a dynamic scoring presence from several spots on the floor.
Another advantage to coming back for his second year? Extended range. Last year Sullinger wasn’t an effective 3-point shooter, making 25% in minimal attempts. This year, and especially during this Final Four run, Sullinger has stepped out and knocked down long jumpers when necessary. He’s 3 for 5 this tournament.
Defensively, Sullinger’s footwork allows him to defend quick players face up, but he’ll have to work on his lateral speed in order to defend face up players. On the post he has the size to defend the 4 and 5 and is a plus rebounder in terms of positioning and angles.
A pretty complete player last year, Sullinger, like Jones, benefited from his sophomore campaign and improved his stock for June’s draft.
– Most complete post player in the nation.
– Has a fantastic shooting touch from 15-18 feet.
– Efficient, efficient, efficient. And makes teammates better with his passing.
– Physically able to take post pounding and finish from the free throw line.
– Not a plus athlete.
– Trouble scoring over length.
– Defending length and lateral quickness.
Tommy Dee is the founder of TheKnicksBlog, editor of CHARGED Magazine and is a regional scout for Marty Blake and Associates. Follow him on Twitter.