Jared Sullinger, the Ohio State big man who is an expected lottery pick in a deep draft, has been red flagged by league doctors, sources told ESPN’s Chad Ford.
Every draftee undergoes extensive medical exams at the NBA combine, which is where league doctors saw a back issue that disturbed them.
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.
As one would expect, the people around Sullinger are saying this is overblown. His father told Ford that Sullinger had tight hamstrings that were causing some back and hip flexor issues, but these were being addressed by stretching, yoga and more.
Sullinger’s agent, David Falk, said basically the same thing to Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick.
“Jared has consulted with one of the foremost specialists of backs and spines, who has vast experience treating professional athletes,” Falk told SI.com. “He has explained to us that Jared had extremely tight hamstrings that became tight because he had suffered an injury that I don’t think he was aware of to his hamstring. He needs to maintain vigilance with his flexibility. And if he does that, and keeps his weight at an appropriate level, then he should have absolutely no problems over the next 15 years.”
I’m not a doctor and I’m not going Hawkeye Pierce here. I have no idea how serious this is and what might have caused it.
But this is not going to help his draft status. DraftExpress had him going as high as No. 7, Ford at 10 to the Hornets, our own Steve Alexander suggests 13 to the Suns. He already may have fallen by not coming out last year, as expected, and returning for a sophomore campaign with Ohio State — guys who give scouts another year to pick apart their game often slide. Now he is viewed as a guy who can be a solid, below-the-rim power forward in the league. Not an All-Star, but a guy who can contribute. Think Brandon Bass as a good goal for him.
But this may scare teams off if they like another guy as much. Not sure he falls out of the lottery. Depends on what the doctors say.