Before every season, the league sends its GMs a survey with more or less the same questions. Then we get to look at it and mock it in a panoply of ways. There are always the requisite knee-slappers (somebody thinks Carmelo Anthony will be the MVP, somebody thinks Boston signing Darko Milicic was the most underrated player acquisition this offseason), but there are also things that are telling about the perplexing psyches of NBA general managers and how the decisions they make create the fabric of the league. Case in point: Jared Sullinger.
Before he forewent the 2011 NBA Draft, Sullinger was considered a top 5 prospect. A back-to-the-basket threat who scored efficiently and rebounded well, Sullinger sounds like he should have been a lock for the lottery based on his Draft Express scouting report from February of 2012. At least until the last line, which reads, “The one thing NBA teams will want to study intently is Sullinger’s medical report, as he’s been slowed this season by back spasms caused by an aggravated disc and plantar fasciitis, being forced to sit out two games in December.”
So intently did they study it, in fact, that Sullinger slipped in the draft—as was forecast—all the way down to the Celtics at #21. Even as he slipped, the consensus was that he was going to be a solid player who could contribute to a team right away. He might not have had the upside of an Anthony Davis or a Bradley Beal, but in the top half of the first round, what are teams really looking for but players who can contribute immediately?
With multiple picks for some teams, Sullinger’s slide meant that 16 GMs passed on Sullinger, or better than half the league. The Rockets took not one but TWO