Maybe five years ago, I got to play golf with Mike Breen....
The Ghost of Greg Oden Haunting NBA Hopeful Jared Sullinger
Oh boy. Oh boy. Here we go again.
Another great talent with poise and NBA-ready footwork around the rim has been haunted with the angry ghost of Greg Oden. The former number one draft pick in 2007 out of Ohio state, yet to find his footing in an NBA uniform.
Oden was the heir apparent to Bill Russell and a pick above the formidably freakish, Kevin Durant. But knee issues have belittled the one-and-done seven-foot college star to bench-warming and wishing, while Durant, carries the NBA as a whole on his sharp, bone-thin shoulders.
And now, just a month out of this year’s NBA draft, another soft tempered, smooth as silk big man and Buckeye, Jared Sullinger, has been red flagged with health concerns. According to Slam Magazine, doctors have found a lingering back issue to be more than just growing pains. And while the twenty year old 6’8″ 270-pound big man’s father swears the back issues aren’t serious, the rest of the league is left to wonder whether or not Sullinger will be more bust than bang in an NBA uniform.
Sullinger was projected early-on as a lottery pick. The two-time All American, averaged 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds on 53.0% shooting during his two-year collegiate career. Sullinger improved his defensive foot-work after his freshman season, fouling less and increasing minutes on the floor. A bit undersized with average explosiveness around the rim, the big man also improved his step-out game, hitting on 40.0% of his three point attempts during his sophomore season.
It was fair to say Sullinger wasn’t an NBA superstar in the making. But what he was/is a talent with the right team-oriented temperament to make a splash right away in the NBA. His comparisons include current Hawk, Al Horford, or a more explosive version of Emeka Okafor. And that might be the very thing that saves him.
The only difference between Oden and Sullinger is found in their pre-NBA comparisons. Oden was supposed to be the man who took the mantel from Dwight Howard and brought to memory former legend, Bill Russell. He was picked by a Trail Blazer team that already sported Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge as the faces of the franchise.
Sullinger on the other hand, had recently slipped to the latter half of the lottery because of his average athleticism. Doctors have advised teams not to pick him in the first round, but a team with the guts to grab him in the late teens or somewhere in the early to mid twenties, could have themselves a game changing diamond in the rough, a’ la Dejuan Blair or Paul Millsap.
Is this Buckeye curse found in the Columbus drinking water? Is Thad Matta a Hudu Shaman spelling big men with poor knees and back issues? Or is simply the summation powers of poor music taste?
Whatever the reason, Buckeye fans are left to wonder yet again, whether or not one of their talented bigs can translate his superior skill set beyond the college game.