Jared Sullinger collected his first double double of his young career yesterday finishing with 12 points and 11 rebounds in only 26 minutes. Of course he also did all the other things that have endeared him to coaches, boxing out, rotating correctly on defensive rotations, being unselfish, etc. I've been a bit surprised at how Celtics fans haven't gotten behind the 20 year old rookie. There's a segment of fans that love to falsely claim that Doc doesn't play rookies/young players, yet when Doc started the Sully they complained that he didn't deserve it.
So why aren't fans higher on Sully? One guess is because he isn't athletic. He doesn't dunk like Gerald Green or Jeff Green. He doesn't ooze untapped potential. The problem is the athletes that ooze this untapped potential rarely ever untap it. Gerald Green got bounced from the NBA and is just now finding a role as a complimentary player. Jeff Green despite coming into the league 5 years ago still more often than not looks clueless on the court, missing defensive rotations and rebounds and disappearing on offense.
While Sully might never give you the Sportscenter dunks, he's going to produce. Give him the minutes and you'll get a guy who will give you a double double more often than not. How many other guys on the team can you say that about? And again he's only 20. He will get better. He also makes "only" $1.3 million, so his production is a steal. Lastly and probably most importantly, he's one of the few guys on the team that hasn't reached their ceiling yet. We know what we're going to get from the Big 3. We know what we'll get from Terry and Bass. Unfortunately we also know what we'll get from Green.
Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger are the X factors. If they end up just being complimentary players this season then most likely we don't get #18. But if Bradley plays like the guy who was nominated for NBA player of the month last Spring and Sully is dropping double doubles on the regular, the Celtics become a much more dangerous squad. So if you want the Celtics to win #18, I'd suggest watching #7 out there and pulling for him. Watch the little things like how he fight for rebounding position. Yesterday I saw him box out a Raptor so much that the guy was out of bounds. Sully might not give you the poster dunks, but he'll give you the wins. I prefer them. Time to get behind this Celtic.
Sullinger explains the chip on his shoulder from falling to #21 via Sulia. Paul Pierce also used a chip on his shoulder from following to #10 to have a pretty good career himself if you recall.
“I’m just doing my job. I could care less. It put a chip on my shoulder, but I could care less how that goes. I’m just out there playing basketball. It’s a great situation. I could’ve been on some other team, worrying about not winning, instead of just playing basketball and being able to have a legitimate shot at winning every night, so it’s a blessing to be here, honestly.”