8/25/2013 01:25:00 AM
Jared Sullinger sat down for an interview this week with WSYX in Ohio. He obviously sounds excited to be returning to the court, but also mentioned that he hoped Rondo would be back by December (2:28). We've heard conflicting reports on when Rondo will return. We've even heard that he might be back by the start of camp. I think it's much more likely here that Rondo misses the first month or two.
The key has to be getting Rondo back to 100%. We're not winning a title this year regardless (many would say we're not sniffing the playoffs either), so why rush Rondo back for no other reason than to win a few more games and get a worse draft pick? The best thing for the longterm future of the Celtics would be for Rondo to take a lengthy Derrick Rose-like rehab and the Celtics to snag a high draft pick in next June's top heavy draft. Maybe the Celtics get lucky this time and get to draft a young star to play next to Rondo or maybe they get a high enough pick to trade for an established star.
Regarding Sullinger, he will always have his limits due to his size and athleticism. He's not going to play above the rim or block shots, but I really see a bright future for him. He was already picking up the Big Babyesque skill of taking charges last season prior to his injury (taking a charge is actually more valuable than blocking a shot) and I expect the new Celtics regime to allow the Celtics big men to go for offensive rebounds again (Doc preferred the team to get back on defense and concede the offensive boards), so Sully could very well become a beast on the boards.
Again, Sullinger's size and athleticism will always limit him slightly down low, but he's crafty enough to be a force in the paint and expect to see more range from his outside game. Even if you're in the camp that believes 15 wins and a top 3 pick would be a much better outcome for the Celtics than 35 and the 16th pick, there are still several things to be excited about and worth watching with this year's squad. One is Sully development. Another is Olynyk's rookie year. A third is Jeff Green's opportunity to start at the 3 and play major minutes. A 4th is Avery Bradley's chance to hopefully play a full season and get back to playing how he did the 2nd half of the 2011-12 season.
There's also Marshon Brooks and Vitor Faverani and their potential. As well as the opportunity for bounce back seasons from Courtney Lee, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, and Brandon Bass. I'm also excited to see what Brad Stevens has in store. And lastly I do expect Rondo to take the floor this season for the Celtics and there's the possibility he might just explode now that he's the main guy on the team. I've always felt if he wanted to he could be a 20 point scorer. Will he become that now without the responsibility to feed the ball to his hall of fame teammates?
So while this season won't be "It's All About 18," it will be about increasing our assets, improving our players' stocks, and building for the future. Some of these players might be around when we next compete for #18 and some may have been used to add key pieces to the next great Celtics team. This season will not be a lost season. It's just that wins and losses won't be as important as player growth. Now if the roster was all old guys and we had no draft picks next June then things would be depressing. But there's plenty to be excited about. And if Rondo takes his time coming back, maybe next year at this time we can be really excited about how improved the 2014-15 Celtics will be.
8/25/2013 01:25:00 AM