The two-week long initial inspection of Jared Sullinger’s game as a Celtic is over. We’ve seen him display a nice post game, some good rebounding ability, some nice passing instincts, and a good mid-range game that allows him to take bigs off the dribble.
All in all, it was a good couple of weeks for Sullinger. But it wasn’t all great. He often displayed his frustrations openly, which is something coach Tyronn Lue referenced earlier this week.
Ty Lue, Celtics assistant coach and head coach for the Summer Leagues, says he told Sullinger “you can’t get frustrated, you can’t drop your head and pout when things aren’t going your way” He added ”I told guys we wanted to get it to him in the post, but if they don’t, you can’t pout, you can’t drop your head and mope around. You might not post at all with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rondo in the game… you might get one post up. Just continue to do what you do, rebound the ball, and be in the right position to take your shots.”
But Sullinger says that’s nothing to be concerned about.
“I always play like that. It’s just that nobody notices. I wear my emotions on my sleeve.”
So you’re frustrated with yourself then?
“Yeah. I’m always frustrated with me, not with the other guys.”
The body language was noticeable in some of these games. For all the skills he has shown, Sullinger still has plenty to learn about the game and dealing with its inevitable frustrations. But those are lessons that can be learned from veterans that he’s yet to even meet.
Still, after a grueling schedule of games over two weeks, Sullinger was down there on the blocks, banging away and still working hard, and drawing fouls.
“Free throws. They’re free for a reason. I just have to keep battling down there. As long as I keep battling, I think I can get to the free throw line. “
He’s had a knack for getting to the line, and he’s had a nose for the ball on the boards. As Celtics fans know quite well, the Celtics desperately need someone to hit the boards. Sullinger knows it too.
“As long as you rebound, you’re going to have a job around here. That my whole goal is to keep my job.”
One part of keeping his job involves staying healthy. He says his back is fine, quickly dismissing any questions about it (he seems pretty sick of answering that question) and he says there’s as simple formula to preventing injuries.
“Ice… Ice… who was that by? Vanilla Ice? Ice Ice Baby? That’s all it’s about. Ice… ice. And get your rest and eat right,” said Sullinger. “Ice. Rest. Proper liquids. Eating right. There’s a lot you’ve got to do to be rested and ready to play.”
One thing that keeps coming up with Sullinger is a comparison to Glen Davis, which I simply just don’t see. Other than being under-sized for the 4, I don’t see similarities. When asked about who he might pattern his own game after, Sullinger didn’t bring up Davis either.
“I take everybody that place similar to me… Kevin Love, you got Zach Randolph, guys like that… you just try to take a little page out of their book.”
I’m not sure about the Love comparison, but I’ll be happy to see some of that develop into his game. One thing I, personally, am also no sure about is Sullinger’s occasional 3-point shooting. I’ve been on him a little about it, so I figured I’d ask him if he was working on his range.
“Every now and then. They didn’t really fall today… I mean, fall period in the summer league, but it’s something I can keep working on.”
Tyronn Lue maybe summed it up best.
“If Doc don’t like it, he’ll tell him not to shoot it. When the season comes and he’s not making it Doc will tell him ‘you know what, that’s not your shot.’ But it’s summer league so play free. If that’s your shot and you want to take it, then take it.”
We’ll see what Doc says about the 3’s. But that’s such a small part of what we’ve seen from Sullinger. It’s still been an encouraging summer from him. We’ve seen raw talent, refined skills, and some things he needs to work on. In short, he’s a talented rookie worthy of a first-round selection but who still has a lot to work on.
As Doc said earlier in the week, Jared Sullinger is what they thought he’d be. Two weeks in to his career, he’s already learned a lot about the game and the business. And the lessons are only just beginning.