Jared Sullinger proving he's not the weakest link in the Celtics' frontcourt

A lot was made this past off season about Jared Sullinger's inability to stay in shape and how it might affect his future with the Celtics.

Those talks heated up when Sully showed up to training camp this season and some fans didn't see the visible improvements to his body that they were apparently hoping for.

What those fans often forgot is that Jared Sullinger, despite his weight problems, was arguably the Celtics' best player from the time that Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were traded away to the Brooklyn Nets to the time Isaiah Thomas arrived midway through last season.

In what was an easily forgettable 2013-2014 campaign, he was without a doubt the only player that could keep that team afloat at times. He averaged close to a double-double with 13.3 points and 8.1 rebounds a game.

Last season, there's no telling what the Celtics' record would have been at the All-Star break if it weren't for Sully. He was by far their best player for a while after the Rondo trade and some might argue he was more valuable than Rondo during Rajon's short stint with the green last year.

When Brad Stevens didn't give him a lot of minutes this preseason, fans were quick to jump to the conclusion that Sullinger was on his way out the door. What those fans forgot, is that preseason rotations mean absolutely nothing.

So of course, in last Wednesday's Opening Night at the Garden, Jared Sullinger went out and did what he usually does. Scored 12 points on 6-8 shooting to go along with 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal in 21 minutes.

Sullinger's minutes were down against Toronto on Friday, but given Tyler Zeller's abysmal zero-rebound performance in that game, it's safe to say that the Celtics could have benefited from a little more Sully.

Apparently Stevens agreed because TZ's playing time was reduced to six minutes against the Spurs Sunday while Sullinger played the second most minutes of any Celtics' big behind Amir Johnson.  Sully finished the game with a team-high eight rebounds to go along with 10 points, which included a couple big shots down the stretch in the fourth quarter.

I'm not ignoring the weight issue, and neither is Sullinger. He has acknowledged it and is actively working to fix the problem.

What I'm saying is that it's not as big of a deal as some people have made it out to be.  Although it hasn't really shown yet in this young season, there is no shortage of quality big men on this team.

What Sullinger is proving is that, contrary to popular belief, he is not the weakest link in the Celtics' frontcourt.  If he has the ability to come in and play 20 effective minutes off the bench then he has a place on this roster.

Follow Jack Bardsley on Twitter @BostonsBigFour

Photo via Boston Herald