If Jared Sullinger is there at 24, the Cavs should take that chance

If Jared Sullinger falls all the way to the Cleveland Cavaliers at pick number 24, I would draft him there without hesitation. I wouldn’t trade up to get him, obviously wouldn’t take him at four, and if the Cavaliers find themselves holding pick number 15 or 16 by some sort of unforeseen wheeling and dealing I wouldn’t use that pick on him either. But at no. 24, in that spot specifically on Thursday, I’d gladly make the 6-9 PF from Ohio State a Cleveland Cavalier. Sullinger is currently the only big I’d take with the 24th overall selection too, should the Cavaliers end up eventually picking there.

Ohio State's Jared Sullinger reacts during the first half of an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game against Kansas Saturday, March 31, 2012, in New Orleans.
I’ve been saying for a few weeks that my Draft philosophy for the Cavs generally includes taking two wings in the first round, and then taking two chances on bigs at 33 and 34. Micheal Kidd-Gilchrist and another wing player in the first round, as an example, then going from there. My reasons include the fact that the Cavaliers need wings on their roster in a bad way, but also that I haven’t seen too much size I’d be interested in spending a late first round draft pick on at that spot. Fab Melo I suppose, but two years ago him and Sully were playing completely different sports as college freshmen. As a defensive presence off the bench maybe Melo wouldn’t upset me at 24. Maybe a guy like Andrew Nicholson wouldn’t either – if you were insisting on going big in that spot over a wing. But Jared Sullinger’s a different type of big altogether. 

This time of year, people make the mistake of trying to project All Star caliber attributes on all of these Draft prospects. If a guy doesn’t look like an NBA All Star, then people don’t want him. Maybe that, in addition to his back issues, is some factor in why Sullinger is falling. The problem with that line of thinking is that the NBA only employs approximately 10 or 12 superstars in the entire League. Another 10 or 12 guys are second tier stars after that. Combined those 24 guys make up the All Star team. On Thursday night, 30 players will be Drafted in the first round. They won’t all be stars, but there’s more than a handful that will end up being consistent payers who can add value in a role for an NBA team. Sullinger will be that type of player, I believe, and I’d spend the 24th pick on him to bring that value to Cleveland.

Yesterday was the first day I really thought that Sullinger could actually be a possible target late in the first round. We did an entire series here at Stepien Rules profiling the late first round possibilities and never once thought to mention Jared Sullinger. But yesterday he wasn’t invited to the NBA Draft. According to Stu Jackson, it doesn’t sound like Sullinger will be a top-15 pick from the conversations he’s having with NBA GM’s. Thus no invite. Jackson went on to add that he’s more likely to go in the teens or in the twenties. The Cavaliers are in the twenties. Draft Express currently has Sullinger coming off their Mock Draft board at pick number 20 in fact, and four picks after that isn’t necessarily impossible. 

Maybe he’s a more skilled version of Glenn Davis in the NBA. Maybe he’s DeJuan Blair-ish. Both guys were passed over by every NBA team once. In the case of both players, especially Davis, that was a mistake. What Sullinger will do for an NBA team, if nothing else, is rebound at a high level. He’s going to play with a chip the size of Ohio on his shoulder too, and I think that 15-footer will be there for him. I feel like he’ll approach his NBA career with a professional mindset, and that he’ll be a consistent player for whoever drafts him. If he comes off the bench to play 20-25 minutes a night next year, I think he gets you at least 7 points and 7 rebounds as a rookie. Maybe he eventually tops out by getting you 13 and 10 coming off the bench consistently for a few years.

He’ll probably be way better than Fab Melo, Andrew Nicholson or any other big who could be available late in the first round is what I’m saying. I’d also bet that Jared Sullinger proves these teams passing on him wrong. I’m so sure of it I’ll spend Chris Grant’s 24th pick on him if he happens to still be on the board. Anything more than that though, as far as the Cavaliers are concerned at least, is too much. 

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.