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More than three quarters of the way through the 2013-14 campaign there have been few highlights that Celtics fans can point to as takeaways from year one of the rebuilding tour. One area that should be highlighted is the emerging dynamic duo of Sullinger and Olynyk who have become one of the most efficient big man pairings in the NBA. That's no homer talk either- that is actual stat backed fact.

As pointed out by MassLive's Jay King, Sully and Olynyk are quietly becoming one of the best front court tandems in the NBA, or at the very least one of the most improved.

Astonishing stat No. 1: With both Olynyk and Sullinger on the court, the Celtics (the friggin’ Celtics!) become the equivalent of the best rebounding team in basketball, with what would be a league-high offensive rebound rate of 34.7 percent. That’s better offensive rebounding than any duo the super-sized Pistons throw out there. It’s better than Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. It’s better than any of the 250 most-used two-man lineups in the NBA. Not bad for an undersized, not-very-athletic tandem.
Astonishing stat No. 2: With both Olynyk and Sullinger on the court, Boston (22-46 on the season) is outscoring opponents by 2.0 points per 100 possessions – a point differential that would be 13th-best in the league, if extrapolated over the entire regular season. Essentially, the duo has made the Celtics above-average, a most impressive feat considering that they currently own the NBA’s fourth-worst record. No other regular Celtics frontcourt pairing has come particularly close.

The two aren't without their faults, but what rookie or sophomore isn't? Sullinger and Olynyk both have gotten so much better since the season began. Even in a rebuilding year riddled with injury, losing streaks, and swirling criticism that this team can't win, Sullinger and Olynyk have shown that they can both contribute and would be able to do so on a good team.

As the Celtics look to make some serious moves in the off-season, should both Olynyk and Sullinger stay in green, their roles are going to change. Regardless if they both stay, both go, or some combination of those options, this duo will play a huge role in what this team looks like going forward. Hopefully it's as contributing members to a productive, winning culture if not as the bonus in a package that brings a superstar to Boston.

Photo: AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Padraic O'Connor 3/18/2014 03:35:00 PM Edit
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