Dime: Sullinger is “Safest” Pick for Cavs

With no consensus top selection for the 2011 NBA Draft, Dime Magazine says that the safest route for Dan Gilbert and Chris Grant is in the form of Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger.

With the season more than halfway over, the Cavaliers are in full experimentation mode, piecing together linueps of young athletes combined with cagey veterans.  With holes at almost every position, the Wine and Gold have the luxury of taking the best player available come June 23.  But with the majority of draft boards featuring different players at the top, Dime feels that Sullinger’s NBA-ready body coupled with his hometown ties could prove to make him the best selection for the rebuilding team.

Dime is admittedly hesitant with the hometown issue, questioning whether or not the Cavaliers would want to go down a similar path of another Ohio-born player.  But in the same, given Sullinger’s recent successes (17.8 points, 10.0 rebounds per game) at Ohio State for the undefeated Buckeyes, it is not only a good PR move, but one that makes sense from a basketball standpoint.

After all, both should be considered when considering who can “save” the Cavaliers.

The question marks surrounding players like Perry Jones, Kyrie Irving, Terrence Jones and Harrison Barnes are potentially enough for the Cavaliers to consider going with safer options at the top rather than opting for potential.  At this stage, Sullinger is compared more to Memphis’ Zach Randolph more than the poster boy of all young power forwards, Los Angeles’ Blake Griffin.  And while he may not be making highlight reels, Randolph has been a consistent threat for 20 points and 10 rebounds per night.

The last player to record at least 20 points and 10 rebounds over the course of a season for the Cavaliers is Brad Daugherty who tallied 21.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per game during the 1991-92 season. Just missing the mark was a then-29-year-old Shawn Kemp who averaged 20.5 and 9.2, respectively, during the 1998-99 season.

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

  • The Conductor

    If you asked Ben Watson right now if he’d like to get a 300% pay raise and play PF for the CAVS, we’d have a 20 and 10 guy.

  • stin4u

    “NBA-ready body coupled with his hometown ties could prove to make him the best selection for the rebuilding team.”

    I SWEAR I’ve heard this somewhere before but for the life of me I can’t remember when or where…..hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

  • Friscohio

    During the game against Puredoo, one of the announcers said Sullinger was considering staying for another year. That he liked playing college basketball yada yada. Wondering what everyone thinks? Is he gone? Is he NBA ready? Hopefully, everyone stays healthy because I love this team. It’s made watching the Cavs tank a little easier. Okay,just a little.

  • BrianRut4


    I think many potential early entrants may be hesitant due to the possibility of a lockout.

  • Lyon

    The biggest thing on if he stays is the labor talks. If he really loves the college experience & the NBA might not have a season, why not stay and go from a top 7 pick to the consensus #1 pick?

    Then again, if he totally dominates the rest of the year and the Bucks make a long run, he’d be the top1 or 2 pick & it would make staying a much harder decision.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    There have been rumblings about Irving and Barnes as well. In the end, feelings are that these guys will all declare.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew

    Sullinger would indeed be the safe pick, but I’m not sure it’s the right one. I can’t see the Cavs passing on Irving, particularly with Byron Scott’s love of PGs and the importance of them to his offense (Kidd in NJ, CP3 in NOH). I loved seeing what Scott did with Mo’s abilities as a distributing PG prior to his injury, and I think Scott and Irving could be a perfect marriage. This is a PG-driven league these days, and if you have a chance to get a PG that some scouts have legitimately compared to CP3, I think it would be a mistake to pass that up.

    Of course, all of this would be contingent on the Cavs actually winning the lottery again. LeBron’s sense of “karma” would dictate that the Cavaliers will not.

  • Roosevelt

    This talk has got me interested, so I went and looked up highlights and a little info on these few players.

    I think that Gilbert’s gotta walk the walk. No “safety” pick – which Sullinger would be. Irving and Terrence Jones, at least, seem to have a good chance to be electrifying, and I would hope that we’d swing for the fences instead of choosing a guy who, at best, could be Z-Bo. (Who BTW, was taken 19th. I’m not sure if that is relevant at all.)

  • OmegaKing

    Andrew – I feel like that’s the most important point. Even if the Cavs are the worst team in the league, it doesn’t guarantee a #1 pick (the lottery is totally stupid and should be done away with in the next CBA). The way things are going, I can’t help but feel that the Cavs will end up with the 3rd pick or something dumb like that.

  • BisonDeleSightings

    I love Sullinger, but a potentially great PG has to come first. I’d take 1. Irving 2. Sullinger 3. Williams from Arizona?

  • CleveFan10

    I don’t like this pick.. He has a chance at being an all-star, but not a great one.

    Why NOT Jimmer Fredette? The guy can shoot from anywhere in the gym, a fantastic FT shooter, and can handle the ball. At this point I’m not saying we should make him 1st pick. But there is no clear-cut first pick. Irving has been hurt, Perry Jones isn’t making a big impact. The Jimmer looks solid, like a bigger and tougher Steph Curry (which has been a successful draft pick). And frankly I need to say that if he was not white he would be talked about as the top pick in the draft. But everyone thinks he is the next JJ Redick when really he looks like the next Gilbert Arenas (without the handguns)

  • 5KMD

    Everyone keeps talking about Irving as if he is not currently out with a crippling injury for someone whose game is based on speed and cutting. I wouldn’t put him at the top of the board until I know he is healthy.

    But everything equal, yeah I take him first. Maybe he could be injured all of next season, have the Cavs suck again, and then pick Sullinger who decided to stay in school.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew

    @5KMD: I hear you, but I think that just goes without saying. Obviously if there are any concerns about Irving’s ability to heal, you look elsewhere.

    But your 2nd point is my absolute dream. In a perfect world, I’d love to have both guys. I don’t believe Sullinger is going to be a superstar, but I think he will be a solid, all-Star caliber PF in the NBA. I’d LOVE to be able to pair him with a mega talent at PG like Irving and see what happens. Can’t blame us for dreaming.

  • http://216sports.wordpress.com Chris M

    My biggest concern is that the Cavs take Irving, then end up on the wrong end of another Oden / Durant draft. They will still be in the lottery next year, they can take a point guard who can stay healthy then.

  • Fern

    I think it’s silly to plan to pick people who claim they’re staying in school.

  • Roosevelt

    @Clevefan10 – There’s a reason why Jimmer Freddette is still in school. As much as we like to praise staying in school, the guys with a really high upside are gone by their junior year at the latest. If he was 6’7″ he might be worth another look, but otherwise he looks like a shorter, slower, JJ Redick.

  • joe

    sully’s great in the ncaa but 6’8 and skills off the dribble means we get big baby 2.0. and that’s if sully gets his face up game going.

    i say irving.

  • Ike

    My only problem with Sullinger is the 6-8/6-9 height. That’s tall enough in college, but not so much in the NBA.

    As a Duke fan/alum, I could see Irving coming back to Duke for another season. And even if he bolts for the NBA, it’s coming off of a tough injury and still a risky pick for the Cavs.

  • S-Dub

    Jimmer Fredette has NO shot at EVER being the #1 overall pick. He’s a great scorer in college but he isn’t some elite and amazing prospect. Jimmer is at best Ben Gordon or Steph Curry in the NBA, but has to be in the right system. I think he could go #10 at the highest. Irving, Sully, Terrance and Perry Jones, The kid from Arizona, Brandon Knight, Marcus Morris, and Enes Kanter should all be picked ahead Jimmer.

  • S-Dub

    @Joe @Ike: He might be 6’9 NOW, but he doesn’t turn 19 until March and has the ability to grow and add and 1-3 more inches before men stop growing, usually around the age of 25.

    As a future strength coach I look at his body and drool at what he can become. He dropped 15-20 pounds of fat coming out of HS this summer and his body has the ability to be rock solid muscle. That kid is going to mature and be excellent in the NBA. I’d compare his peak NBA physique somewhere a cross between a young Barkley and Ben Wallace. He won’t be as muscular as Wallace or quick as Barkley was. But, that’s a great combo.

  • CleveFan10

    Folks, I am not saying Jimmer should be #1. But he is very underrated. Do the Cavs have a consistent scorer from the guard position? Obviously if you’re watching the Cavs they don’t have a consistent anything (except possibly Jamison). The point I am really making is that he is white, and therefore thrown out of the discussion, which I think is a mistake especially looking at how Hillis really had a breakout season at a position where white players are rarely given an opportunity to succeed (ie Toby Gerhart). Not trying to say white people don’t have opportunities, but in basketball they are basically discarded as “heady” or “creative” players that aren’t big and fast enough to succeed. Hell, look at Craft, the PG from OSU, what do the commentators say EVERY game?

    Fredette has unlimited range, is built well for a guard, and can handle the ball and actually penetrate. Why is that something you don’t want in a basketball player? We would rather be more excited about Kyrie Irving, Harrison Barnes, or Perry Jones?? Those people have proven NOTHING and we’re ready to throw our franchise on their shoulders? Fact of the matter is that we can get any 1 of these players and it won’t make a difference. We need several top 5 picks to be contenders. But go cavs and go cleveland!

  • S-Dub

    There’s been 1 WHITE player in the history of the NBA that I could argue was better than all but 2 HOF’ers. That’s Larry Bird. Until someone proves that to not be the case, then I don’t wanna hear about White basketball players in the NBA. The NBA houses the greatest athletes in the world. Most of them aren’t white. I count Enes Kanter as a white player and if I got the opportunity to see the guy play I might be advocating for the Cavs to draft him to have next to Andy and JJ. Kevin Love and JJ Reddick are the best white players in the NBA and only Love cracks the top 30. Peyton Hillis had 1 good year, he isn’t the second coming.

    I think Fredette would be great on the Cavs, but considering they’ll have no lower than the 4th pick, they can’t be drafting Fredette when elite PG prospects and dominating PF prospects are on the board. Also, let’s see what Fredette does against power conference guards in the NCAA tourney.

  • paulbip

    Why are veterans called “cagey”. Is it because they are still in the league but lack talent? That’s what I see on the cavs roster.

  • Shamrock

    What elite PGs Irving who is hurt and hasn’t proved anything? What dominating PFs Sullinger who hasn’t even declared? I’ve never understood how Fredette’s name never gets mentioned around here. Wait, scratch that this is same town where people didn’t want to trade JJ Hickson even if it meant to rent Stoudemire. The same town that turns a blind eye when Mo Williams disappears. The same town that turned a guy with the nickname Boobie into one of the greatest shooters in the game. I sure hope Chris Grant has a better track record otherwise it’ll be even longer before the Cavaliers franchise competes.

  • yerfdog

    i dont think i could miss out on Kyrie….. iv heard some say hes john wall with a higher ceiling