The 6-9", 265 pound, sophmore out of Ohio State can expect to be the first rookie in a while to play consistent minutes. This is a rarity because Doc Rivers isn't particularly fond of putting rookies into the rotation, unless there's an injury (Greg Stiemsma started a few games for the injured Jermaine O'Neal). Jared Sullinger has already been labled by some as the "steal of the draft" but he still has much to prove. He fell through the draft because of his back injury, which may have an impact on his game.
What Sulinger brings to the table: Rebounding. The Celtics have been one of the worst rebounding teams for the last couple of years, and even though Sullinger cannot remedy this problem by himself, but he's a very good start. He averaged an impressive 17.4 points, and 9.7 rebounds, shooting an efficient 53% from the field in his 2 years with the Ohio State Buckeyes.
In his first game in the Summer League, he showed great promise by opening up with a 20-point, 6-rebound performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He also shot 50% from the field. However, he struggled a lot throughout the rest of the Summer League, finishing with averages of 12 points, and 8 rebounds, shooting 36% from the field. These stats aren't great, but they are manageable. It's not as if Kevin Garnett will have to start from scratch. Sullinger has shown his ability to rebound consistently despite his 1-rebound effort in the last game of the Summer League at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Sullinger has also shown the ability to impact a game defensively by collecting rebounds, even if his offensive game is lacking. His top 2 rebounding efforts came against the Brooklyn Nets, and the Chicago Bulls. He had 8 points and 7 points in those games respectively. He ended those games with 12 rebounds and 14 rebounds (respectively), both of which, resulted in a Celtic win.
Having a future Hall of Famer like Kevin Garnett is a luxury that few teams have. Jared Sullinger has already expressed his eagerness to learn from Garnett, and I'm sure Garnett is even more eager to teach. Becoming a more consistent rebounder is something that I'm sure Sullinger will be able to do with ease under Garnett's leadership. It's his offensive game that I'd like to see an improvement in. I don't mind the 12 points that he was averaging in the Summer League, but I would like to see his field goal percentage go from 36% to at least somewhere in the 45-50% range. I believe much of his time will be spent playing the Power Forward position (perhaps a little of Small Forward and even Center, depending on the lineup) where he may be a little undersized. He has to somehow utilize his 265-pound body to play "bigger" than he is. Glen Davis is also listed as 6-9" and he played the Center position very well for the Orlando Magic in the playoffs against the Pacers, averaging 19 points, and 9 rebounds, shooting 43% from the field against an All-Star center listed at 7-2" in Roy Hibbert.
Jared Sullinger is a very promising rookie with the ability to become a dominant forward in the NBA. But only Father Time, and Father Garnett will tell.
What are your thoughts? Can Sullinger live up to the high expectations? Or will he simply be a rookie who can't play consistent enough to log consistent minutes?