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Celtics Draft Sullinger, Melo in NBA Draft 1st Round

BOSTON (ESPNBoston.com) — The Boston Celtics selected Ohio State sophomore forward Jared Sullinger with the 21st overall pick and Syracuse sophomore center Fab Melo with the 22nd overall pick in the NBA draft on Thursday night.

“Obviously we needed to address size,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “The fact that number one, Jared Sullinger fell to us, is just fortunate. Last year he would have a been a top-5 pick. It gives us a rebounder, a high IQ player, a good player, a really good player from the outside.”

Sullinger originally was projected as a lottery pick, but was medically red-flagged by NBA doctors with a back issue.

“We feel pretty good about it, or we wouldn’t have taken him,” Rivers said. “Obviously we’re going to have to watch him and make sure he has the right treatment all the time. … All the doctors that we talked to gave the clearance and none of them red-flagged him. That’s fine by us.”

The 6-foot-9 Sullinger missed two games of the Buckeyes’ 2011-12 campaign because of back spasms, but still managed to average 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds, helping lead Ohio State to the Final Four.

Melo, a 7-foot native of Brazil, was the 2011-12 Big East Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks for the Orange last season. However, he was ruled ineligible for the NCAA tournament because of academic issues.

Rivers said that Melo, like Sullinger, would help beef up the Celtics’ inside presence.

“Fab Melo does the same thing. He has size and we like size, we needed size. It gives us the chance to work with him. We think he can be a good player.”

The Celtics took another Syracuse player, swingman Kris Joseph in the second round.

Joseph was chosen with the 51st overall pick on Thursday night, was the second Orange player drafted by the Celtics.

The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Joseph led a well-balanced Syracuse scoring attack with 13.4 points per game as a senior. He also led the team as a junior with 14.3 points per game.

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