Jared Sullinger’s back issues, if true, probably push him well out Pistons’ range

Chad Ford of ESPN:

Ohio State Buckeyes big man Jared Sullinger has been medically red flagged by NBA doctors, multiple league sources told ESPN.com on Monday.

Sullinger, who is projected to be a lottery pick in the 2012 NBA draft, underwent a series of medical tests at the NBA draft combine a week ago. According to sources, the doctors who looked at Sullinger were concerned with Sullinger’s back.

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.

If this is true – and the reporting here rises above the typical pre-draft smokescreens – Jared Sullinger is likely all but eliminated as a candidate for the No. 9 pick.

How far would Sullinger fall? Ford has the Ohio State power forward lasting until No. 20 in his latest mock draft, and his latest chat, Ford provides further rationale:

Grumpy (Cleveland)

Where does Jared Sullinger fall to

Chad Ford  (3:17 PM)

No idea yet. Lots of concern from team doctors based on the physical. But every team’s medical staff looks at these things differently. And different GMs have different risk tolerances. Sullinger’s camp is adamant that this isn’t a serious issue. But I’ve spoken with around a dozen GMs who believe it MIGHT be based on what their docs are telling them. My guess is he slides out of the Top 10 … but how far? Depends on how comfortable team doctors get with what Sullinger’s personal physician and agent is saying. I’ve seen this go both ways. Sometimes red flags don’t have much of an impact at all. Sometimes they have a devastating impact. More often, with top players however, it’s the latter. DeJuan Blair is the most recent example. But this happened to Danny Granger too a few years ago. He slipped from a top 5 pick into the late teens.

After the Pistons went for the wrong DaJuan in 2009, maybe this is their chance to land the draft’s big injury risk in the second round. I’m not a big Sullinger fan (even before I consider his college), but in the second round, he’d be an incredible pick.

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