Kevin Garnett loved playing with Kendrick Perkins. He probably still loves him as a friend. Some of the best team basketball KG has been a part of involved playing alongside Perk. So this next quote is no small matter.
"He reminds me a lot of Perk, man, when Perk was here," Garnett said on Tuesday. "Obviously he’s not the defensive player that Perk was, but his IQ, moving the ball, being unselfish… he’s a great teammate."
Wow. That kind of praise, ...for a rookie?
Garnett is a complex fella, but in some ways he's pretty simple. Work hard, listen to the coach and to KG, and do what's asked of you and KG is alright with you. Ryan Hollins didn't have much talent and ultimatly wasn't very productive last year, but he passed all those tests so KG was happy with him.
But to compare a guy to Kendrick Perkins is a whole other level of blessing. As KG states, he's not talking necessarily about the defense or the scowl or things like that. But perhaps the way they approach the game is what is making KG remissness.
"I’m not the strongest. I’m not the fastest. I’m not the most athletic," said Sullinger, who is averaging four points and five boards in 18.7 minutes over three games. "But if I can think the game and be one step ahead of everybody else, it kind of puts you in those right positions. That’s pretty much what basketball IQ is to me."
Sound familiar? During the 2008 title run, Perkins averaged 6.9 points — shooting 61.3 percent thanks to 95 percent of his shots coming inside 10 feet of the basket — to go along with 6.1 rebounds (1.9 offensive) in 24.5 minutes a night. More importantly, the Celtics never had to run a single play for him.
Every team needs guys that fill in the gaps and can score without needing plays called for them. Great teams need glue guys that don't worry about stats but strive to do all the little things that have to be done to win basketball games. Sullinger seems like exactly that kind of guy.
For additional insight into his character, check out Bulpett's must read article talking to Sullinger's father. Here's a snippet (but you should read the whole thing of course).
"It all starts with character and purpose and getting your head right," he said. "Like, ‘I’m not getting that rebound to lead the league in rebounding, I’m getting that rebound because the team needs that from me to win.’ Those are two totally different frames of mind, and when kids buy into that and get away from their goals and get into purpose, that’s the only time it opens up their mind to really understand the game.
Wait a minute. Dare I say it? That sounds like... Ubuntu.
The more I hear about this guy and the more I see him play, the more I like him. Great, great pickup for the Celtics.