Sullinger aims to move beyond "up and down" preseason
This past Wednesday night, the Boston Celtics grabbed their second win of the preseason over the Brooklyn Nets. Celtics sophomore, Jared Sullinger, enjoyed seeing his team win, albeit from home as flu-like symptoms kept him out of the game.
"I was in the bed the whole time," Sullinger said, adding, "just trying to hold in all the food that I had the night before."
The 2013-14 season is not off to a great start for Sullinger, between recovering from his rookie season ending back surgery to playing himself into shape during camp and over the course of 9 hard fought preseason games.
"Camp has been rough for me," he said. "A lot of ups and downs. One day I play well, the next day I play horrible. I just have to keep pushing through and keep playing."
Sullinger’s role on the 2013-14 Celtics is going to be an important one. Coach Brad Stevens will be utilizing his entire 14 team roster in a variety of ways while establishing his version of positionless basketball. Regardless of who is on the court for the tip-off and who is logging minutes off the bench has never mattered to Sullinger- a stance that, why may not be glamorous, is hopefully going to help the team improve and surpass the criticism that this year’s team is a rebuilding one.
"Brandon and Jared are both going to play huge roles on this team," Stevens said after Wednesday's win. "And whether they start or come off the bench doesn't really matter."
While Sullinger is closer to his desired level of play now than when camp began, he is not quite where he wants to be. The hard work is going to pay off, and he knows it. After appearing in 45 games as a rookie, Sullinger’s influence on the team was certainly felt. His season average 6.3 points and 5.9 rebounds a game were better than his averages as a starter- 3.8 points and 4 rebounds- but his presences helped to get the team what they needed; wins. The Celtics were 4-1 when Sullinger played with the starting unit.
Be it off the bench or getting starters minutes, Sullinger is going to be a big part of the future of this team. In his 2nd year with the team, he’s the 4th longest tenured member of the Celtics behind Rajon Rondo, Brandon Bass, and Avery Bradley. Without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to guide this young team, maturing into a young veteran is exactly what Boston needs from Jared Sullinger this season. Thus far that seems like exactly what Sullinger is planning to do.