The third in a series of profiles of players that might be of interest to the Boston Celtics during the 2012 NBA Draft (June 28, ESPN, 7 p.m.):
Projection: Late first round (Insider rank: 24; Position rank: 7)
In the news: From Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio: "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.
Why the Celtics want him: Don't let Sullinger's position rank fool you; he can bang down low with the best of them in this year's draft class. Out of all of the big men expected to go in the first round, Sullinger has one of the more complete offensive games, as he's skilled around the basket, and can also create for himself and others when facing the hoop from 12-15 feet. Before this medical red flag was waved, Sullinger was being eyed as a potential lottery pick, which speaks to the skills he does possess and the belief that, prior to the injury news, NBA teams saw him as a player who would find success in the league. Add in the fact that he's a very good rebounder (he finished first in the Big Ten in total rebounding percentage during his freshman year and second during his sophomore year) and Sullinger might be a reasonable gamble for the Celtics.
Why the Celtics don't want him: Despite all of Sullinger's credentials, the medical red flag can't exactly be ignored, nor can his suspect athleticism and conditioning (C's coach Doc Rivers always demands his players be in peak condition). Boston's rebuilding process will happen sooner rather than later and Danny Ainge has proven before that a quality team can be built through the draft (think back to the 2004 NBA draft when he netted Al Jefferson, Delonte West, and Tony Allen in a single round). Plucking a few gems from this year's draft class really would go a long way towards stabilizing things down the road, so, despite his usual intention to swing for the fences, Ainge might have to scale back and go for a safer pick at the power forward position like Andrew Nicholson. Also, despite the red flag, Sullinger's stock hasn't quite dipped enough for him to be on the board when Boston's selecting, so it might be wiser to hold off on trading up for him, opting instead for trying for more value with back-to-back selections at 21 and 22.