Friday, July 6, 2012

Wishful hindsight improves 2011 draft stock for Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III

After Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Baylor's Perry Jones III tumbled to the bottom of the first round in the June 28 NBA draft, many analysts said they would have been picked much higher if they had turned pro after their freshman years in 2011.

Here are a few examples:

- New York Times on Jones: “…at worst he probably would have been selected in the top 5.”

- on Sullinger: “He probably would have been considered the likely top pick in the draft. If he not the first pick, he would have been one of the top five picks in 2011.”

- Celtics coach Doc Rivers: “Last year he would have a been a top-5 pick.”

There were plenty more across many platforms.

To say both would have been top-five picks is tough to prove. For those assessments to be true, everything would have had to gone right for Jones and Sullinger, which didn't happen in 2012.

In Sullinger's case, it means all of his back issues have occurred in the past 10 months, and doctors wouldn't have found potential for future injury when he would have been examined leading up to the 2011 draft. It also means NBA front offices wouldn't have had the same concerns about Sullinger's below-the-basket style of play that helped send him down the board this year.

For Jones, all of the criticism he received about inconsistent play, lack of toughness and inability to create a shot wouldn't have existed in 2011 if he had been a top-five pick.

Furthermore, logic would tell you that if both were guaranteed top-five picks in 2011, they would have declared for the draft then.

Do you really think Sullinger and Jones went back to school and played themselves 15 to 20 picks lower in the draft? They didn't become that much worse in one year. It's because NBA scouts would have done their jobs and came to similar conclusions as this year.

Even if all those issues didn't exist in 2011 and everything was wonderful, would either or both have been selected ahead of Derrick Williams at No. 2? How about Tristan Thompson (No. 4), Jonas Valanciunas (5), Jan Vesely (6) or Bismack Biyombo (7)?

When it comes to deciding where Sullinger and Jones would have been picked among that group, nothing is for sure. Except for one thing: If they would have tumbled out of the lottery, everyone would have said they should have stayed in school another year to improve their games.

- Howard Primer


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