Recently, however, Sullinger found himself in a bit of a slump. Before he had 24 points and 17 rebounds in a loss to the 76ers Wednesday, Sullinger scored six points against OKC, two points against the Nets, eight points against the Knicks and had 12 rebounds combined in those three games.
While Sullinger has been dealing with hand and wrist injuries, coach Brad Stevens decided it was time to have a talk with his big man about the future.
Brad Stevens felt the need to sit down with Sullinger this week to discuss the struggles, while also asking him to take on a bigger role with the rebuilding club.
"First of all, I did say ‘Hey, I realize you are playing through the hand and the finger.’ He’s a tough guy, who wants to play and likes to play. I value that and think highly of him for that," Stevens said.
"One of the things that I just challenged him on was not having to accept being a 22-year-old in the league. We are in a unique situation in that we are asking some of our young guys to be leaders and more vocal in their approach. My talking point with him was, we know you are 22 but you are a mature basketball player and you know the game. For our team to grow we need you to play and be a few years ahead of where you are. It’s not fair to him, but it’s a great opportunity for him.”
This is a great move. Bringing in one of the future cornerstones of the franchise and telling him you need him to lead. A move like this will pay dividends in the future when the team is competing again.
Now it's up to Sullinger to step up to that role. No more flagrant fouls. He needs to be that double-double machine he's been for good chunks of this season and if his shot's not falling, he needs to find other ways to impact the game. Rajon Rondo is the team's best player, but Sullinger can be the team's heart and soul and team motivator. Time will tell if he can live up to it, but it's clear this team sees Sullinger as something special to build around.
@ericblaisdell13 Eric Blaisdell 1/30/2014 02:49:00 PM Tweet Edit