The Mikan Drill

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Jared Sullinger has shown limited post moves

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I hate to rain on the hype parade that is surrounding Jared Sullinger but I feel the need to interject my thoughts. Sullinger will be tough to stop for many defenders and I fully expect him to average 20+ points per game this season. However, he has shown a very limited post game so far in the two games I have seen him play.

That is not to say he has no post moves, as you will see. However, I will demonstrate how he is still relying on his big body to get him buckets instead of displaying solid footwork to get him open looks.

Good post moves

Sullinger has showed that he has a nice hook shot from multiple areas on the court. He uses his strong lower body to obtain good post position and then takes one (or two dribbles) and puts up a hook shot. Let’s take a look.

Like I showed earlier (seen here), OSU likes to set screens to get Sullinger open. This gives him a bit of separation to get to the block in this play. He is met by the Florida defender when he takes one dribble, pivots toward the baseline and drains the hook shot.  He creates some separation from his defender and finishes the play with a nice one handed shot.

Here is a good move and finish with his left hand. He takes two dribbles toward the paint and drops the shot over the defender. I thought this was a very impressive move by Sullinger, but sadly, it was the one of the few he displayed.

Poor possessions

There were several times when Sullinger got the ball in the post and tried to simply power his way to the basket. No footwork, no ball fake, nothing that would throw the defender off and give Sullinger a better chance to finish. This is something he can hopefully adjust to as the season wears on and he notices the importance of these parts of the game. He got blocked 4 times against Florida and this will continue to happen if he does not adjust.

Watch a few plays where Sullinger tries to simply use his strength to get to the rim, only to be met and rejected by defenders of similar strength.

I think he needs to see the help defense coming from the weak side in this play and hesitate to watch the defender fly by or ball fake and draw a foul on the defender. Instead, he tries to overpower the defender and he gets blocked. This shows a lack of awareness once he gets the ball in the post and it turns into a negative possession.

Here is a nice example of the point I am trying to make of the lack of footwork displayed by Sullinger. Sullinger tries to go baseline but Patric Young has him well defended. Sullinger does not adjust and try to pivot back to the middle or beat the defender in any way. Instead, he tries to keep muscling toward the basket and he forces a tough shot from a bad angle, which Young blocks.

Here is the final play I want to highlight. Sullinger gets the ball in a nice position. The defender is giving him the ability to turn to pivot over his left shoulder and finish with his right hand. Sullinger cannot recognize this and gets his shot blocked yet again as he makes a slow turn toward the middle. This is the first time he has faced defenders that can hang with him in the college game and he showed he has difficulty reading the defense in the post as well as limited moves that are effective against tough defenders.

I do not think this is a major weakness of Sullinger, especially this early in the year. He is still adjusting to the level of competition and having to rely on more than his strength to score in the post. However, I think he has some room to grow in the areas I highlighted above. If you read the box score from the Florida game, you would have been led to believe that Sullinger was dominant on offense. While he was good, many of his baskets came on dunks after the OSU guards had broken the press.

Now I believe Sullinger is a great athlete and think he will be one of the best freshman and a top draft pick next season. However, I want to see a little more out of him in the post before I anoint him as an awesome basketball player. The hook moves are a good start but I need to see a little more.

Thoughts on this?


Written by Joshua Riddell

November 18, 2010 at 2:21 am

Posted in Player Breakdowns

Tagged with ,

3 Responses

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  1. Like most freshmen bigs, Sullinger certainly needs to polish off his post game and learn to rely less on his strength and athleticism. But I wasn’t too turned off by any of the three plays you highlighted here. I believe they show how beneficial an up-fake would be, but in the first video he was simply countered by great defense. In the second, he had the right idea but turned and went far too close to the baseline. As a result, Young was able to recover very well and force Sullinger into a tough shot. The third, I’ll give you.

    In the end, it’s going to be tough to point out negatives after an efficient 26-point performance, but I like where you’re going with this and it will be very interesting to see how Sullinger progresses this year.

    Kyle (WSF)

    November 19, 2010 at 8:14 am

    • I just wanted to highlight this to curb some of the hype surrounding him after seeing some people label him the hardest player to guard in college basketball. It’s true that most freshmen need work but contrast him with someone like Cousins from last season and he has a long way to go.

      Like I said, I don’t think this is a big problem and Sullinger will continue to put up points in other ways. He just has not showed me much in the post yet and I think there are ways to defend him. If he improves and shows some post moves, I will be highlighting them as well. Just something to watch this season.


      November 19, 2010 at 1:59 pm

  2. […] defender. Take a look at the third video (first poor possession) of Jared Sullinger I discussed (see here). Sullinger tried to power over the defender and got […]

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