NEWARK — The Boston Celtics bolstered their frontline on Thursday night, selecting a pair of sophomores in forward Jared Sullinger and center Fab Melo with the 21st and 22nd overall picks. With the 51st overall pick, the Celtics selected another former Syracuse player, forward Kris Joseph.
“Obviously we needed to address size,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who was on hand to see his son, Austin, get drafted by the New Orleans Hornets.
They will get exactly that with the addition of the 6-foot-9 Sullinger, originally projected as a lottery pick. Sullinger’s stock fell in recent weeks because doctors red-flagged his back issue. Sullinger had missed two games last season with back spasms.
Still, Sullinger finished the season averaging 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds, as Ohio State went to the Final Four.
The team they beat to get there, Syracuse, was without Melo for the entire NCAA tournament because he was deemed ineligible with a reported academic issue.
Melo was the 2011-12 Big East Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. Though he is ready to contribute on the defensive end, Melo is still considered a project offensively.
“We took a flier on him because we think he can be a good player,” Rivers said.
The same can be said of Joseph, who led Syracuse in scoring with 13.4 points, along with 4.7 rebounds.