Jared Sullinger matchup motivated?

Whether you like it or not, Jared Sullinger is the Boston Celtics best and brightest player right now. That is not saying much though, as our current roster is far from spectacular. Avery Bradley’s 13.2 ppg is hardly note worthy, and break-out Jae Crowder has not been on the roster long enough to truly showcase his consistency. Jared Sullinger, on the other hand, has posted a respectable 13.4 ppg 8 rpg stat sheet so far this season.

Coming into this season I was convinced this was going to be Sully’s breakout year. It appeared as though the stars had aligned for Sullinger; he was in good health, he was coming off an impressive sophomore season, he was guaranteed starting minutes, and he was a legitimate scoring option. His exceptional pre-season only added to my excitement.

Sadly, this season has been a sort of let down in Sullingers case. His stats are nearly identical to last years, yet he has had an increase in his minutes. Normally, I would suggest Sully has reached his ceiling, he is a 21st pick after all, but we can all see that is not the case. Sullinger is fully capable of performing at a high level, but for some reason he does not do it every night.

For example, two nights ago Sullinger went off against Anthony Davis, one of the best power forwards in the league. He posted 27 points and 10 rebounds while leading the Celtics to a 108-100 victory with his late game heroics. That's the kind of performance we expect from Sully. He's capable of doing it every night, but for some reason he saves his best outings for matchups with the league's most elite players.

Courtesy of Marc D'Amico, Celtics.com
Sullinger over-performed and outmatched 11 of the leagues best big-men in the past year. His worst performance out of these games was against the Bulls in which he went 16-16. He outplayed his season average for scoring and rebounds in every one of these bouts, and he did it against lockdown defenders and stars. Sully should be able to put up those numbers with ease against any defender if he can do it against the best players in the league, so why isn't that true?

Could it be that Jared is not giving it his all every day? Could it be that we have another Rondo on our hands? (Too soon?) All I am saying is that Sullinger clearly gives his all when he is matched up against elite talent, but he struggles to do the same against lesser players. Does he think he does not need to play hard against "lesser defenders", or does he just play with a chip on his shoulder, and really want to showcase his abilities against the stars. Davis, after all, was taken 20 spots ahead of Sully in the 2012 draft, so that could cause some stigma and intensify the match up. Playing against the best is a great motivator.

Maybe Sullinger is match-up motivated, or maybe this is all a strange coincidence.
Maybe I am just looking a gift horse in the mouth.

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(As always, double underscore)

Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Charles Krupa