The Celtics took a chance by selecting Jared Sullinger in the first round of the draft. Has it paid off so far, and what kind of impact will the rookie have down the road for Doc Rivers?
Sullinger was a force of nature for Ohio State during his college days, averaging 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds as a freshman and 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds as a sophomore before entering the draft that summer.
Despite concerns about his back, which ultimately caused his draft sock to drop (Sullinger would have been a lottery pick had he come out after his freshman year), the Celtics decided to take a chance on the talented big man.
Sullinger hasn’t had many chances to prove he can compete in the NBA on a consistent basis, but there have been some promising early signs. Right now Sullinger is behind Brandon Bass for the starting spot at the four, with Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox also cutting into his minutes here and there.
Though he’s averaging 5.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in only 17.9 minutes per game, the future seems bright for Sullinger in a Boston uniform. He’s had some standout performances already: posting his first double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes during a win over Toronto, and then following that up with a career-high 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting in a loss to Detroit the next day.
Those efforts have given Rivers the confidence he needs to keep playing the rookie. Sullinger has played at least 14 points in each of Boston’s last five games, and posted 20+ minutes in three of those contests.
Now, it will take time before Sullinger really comes into his own and gets a chance to shine, and it will take an injury or some kind of transaction for that to happen. However, Boston is doing just fine right now and needs to keep being a team to track closely with your NBA picks. The Celtics are as experienced as they come, so watch out.