Jared Sullinger decided to reward those of us who thought that watching the NBA Summer League for two weeks would be riveting television by revealing to us his full arsenal. He showed that his low-post moves and his ability to put the ball in the bucket were suited perfectly for the not-so-bright lights of the Summer League, a league that is notoriously filled with a few first round studs, some first-rounders from previous years that haven't seen enough time in actual NBA games to improve, a couple stiffs that never panned out but are looking to reclaim their "glory days" and a bunch of guys most people haven't heard of. In short, the Summer League is more D-League than NBA.
Sullinger knows this, which is why he isn't getting too high off the fact that he had a fantastic summer. He realizes that he will soon share the court with proven NBA players, players that have won MVP awards, been to All-Star games and won NBA championships. He realizes that his chances of showing off those smooth moves in the post this year will be few and far between, which is why he's already looking for other things to do to help out the Celtics this fall. (CSNNE)
While some rookies enter their first year determined to establish themselves as an offensive presence, the Boston Celtics forward is prepared to make the necessary adjustments to fit into the team’s system.
“As long as we get a number put on to the left side instead of the right side, I’m going to be happy,” Sullinger told CSNNE.com in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
“[The coaches] just said I played really well and there are certain things I’ve got to get better at,” Sullinger said. “Pick-and-roll defense, understanding the offense a little more, understanding that there’s a lot I’m not going to be getting due to having Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo out there on the floor, and obviously Jason Terry. There’s a lot of shots I won’t be normally taking, so I’ve got to get used to it ASAP.”
“I’ve got to find other opportunities to score,” said Sullinger. “Like I tell everybody, rebounding is one of my strong suits of basketball. I’ve got to get ready for rebounding. Hopefully you don’t miss a lot, but if you do, hopefully I’m there to clean it up.”
The Celtics now have a second unit that can actually put the ball in the hoop and aren't reliant on offensive monstrosities such as Ryan Hollins and Sasha Pavlovic to solely be the fourth and fifth guys out on the floor, which means that Sullinger will most definitely be deferring to guys like Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Jeff Green. The good news for Sullinger is that Doc Rivers doesn't want his team to play "hero ball" and the chances of him actually getting some looks in the post should be pretty good. He just won't be the first or second option on his unit.
If Sullinger can prove that he can rebound at this level — something that was questioned due to his lack of height for a big man — he could be a vital member of the C's. Rebounding has been the Achilles' heel of this team since, what seems like, the post-McHale days. The Celtics are far from a big team and -- like I mentioned earlier — they were relying on Ryan Hollins off the bench, partly because they were hoping he could actually rebound.
Sullinger seems to understand his role and what he was brought in to do — initially, at least. He could be one of the centerpieces that this franchise builds around down the road, but for now he's a rookie who has a job to do. He knows that his job doesn't involve shooting repeatedly.