Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
He has picked up fouls when officials didn’t want to whistle Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce, he’s gotten them for merely raising his hands and standing in the same spot, he’s drawn them simply for being a 20-year-old rookie.
Sullinger started his first NBA game Saturday night against the Wizards at the Verizon Center, scoring 4 points with seven rebounds in 30 minutes and picking up four of the Celtics’ 12 personal fouls in an 89-86 win. He has eight fouls in the past two games and he lived in foul trouble during the preseason.
[...] Yet he has been humbled by the treatment from the officials. So he smiles. He sometimes puts his arms over his head, trying to avoid saying anything, and calmly walks to the side of the key to wait on the free throws.
“I don’t know, that’s a good question,” he said when asked how he can avoid foul issues. “I have no answer for that one. Mentally it is [tough], but at the same time you have to keep playing basketball.”
Let me start by saying… I hate the “rookie treatment” stuff. If a guy gets into position to, say, take a charge… and he’s there in time… the determining factor of whether it’s a block or charge shouldn’t be how many years the guy has spent in the league.
But Sullinger is dealing with it. He hasn’t yapped at any refs yet… no matter how much he might want to. It wouldn’t matter anyway. Complaining to the refs would just make it worse. It’s like telling the bully at school to quit… Chuck… errr.. I mean the bully would still just keep taking your lunch money.
I’m impressed with Sullinger so far. There is no doubt he is going to do very well in this league. But there is also no doubt he needs work.
“This is the NBA, this is not college, and that’s the focus that I think [he needs]. It’s not the play, they all know how to play. They have to learn how to have NBA focus, and I think he still has some ways to go, but it helps when Kevin’s next to him.”
Rivers wasn’t lying. Sullinger allowed 10 points on 11 total plays on Saturday, according to Synergy Sports data. Only four of those points came when Garnett was on the floor — one fourth-quarter bucket when Sullinger was slow to step out and defend a Jan Vesely jumper and the other when Sullinger and Courtney Lee got crossed defending a pick-and-roll and Jannero Pargo hit a final-frame jumper.
Nobody’s a finished product when they walk in the door as a rookie. And the C’s are far from a finished product as a team. Does that mean they’ll go into the playoffs with Sullinger as a starter? Maybe. Regardless, they’ll ask him to be a contributor in the playoffs. And he’ll be one… if he can stay out of foul trouble.
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston: Still leaning on the Big 3… for now | CSNNE: Maxwell: Problem has been with the bench | Maine Red Claws draft Doc’s son Jerimiah | Garnett’s defensive wisdom crucial for Celtics | Herald: Doc Rivers, Celtics, on a quest for consistency