Jared Sullinger's been eating a lot this summer, but not the way he used to. Sullinger has been feasting on doubters from Twitter who think he's fat and has no All-Star potential. Check out the video below to see the motivational tweets Sully has been favoriting.
Sullinger was asked in June what weight he's trying to get to and he said, "My main weight is 260 by training camp. I'm in the 280s range right now."
Pictures recently emerged of a new, slimmer Sullinger, which only shows that his weight loss has been a major success.
The 6-foot-9 power forward still says he hasn't reached his final goal, but with over a week left until training camp, he has plenty of time to arrive at his target weight. Hopefully tweeters have continued to flood him with hate, just for the motivation.
But the real important story here is how the weight loss will help Jared Sullinger as a basketball player. Here are a few ways he should take a big step forward during the 2014-15 season:
The three-pointer is an aspect of Sully's game that needs to be developed for him to reach his true potential, and I hate when others argue that he needs to stay in the paint and focus on low-post scoring and rebounding. That's what will help him have a long career, but the three is what could take him to the next level as an all-around scorer.
Sullinger hit threes at a clip of only 27.3 percent last season, but that isn't so bad for a player who attempted only one as a rookie, especially considering he was coming off major back surgery.
Sullinger's mechanics are great. He utilizes both the hop and the one-two, and his follow-through is sound. That's why he hit mid-range jumpers from 16-plus feet at a highly efficient rate of 45.6 percent, according to NBA.com. Yet, of course, step back beyond the three-point line and his percentages fall off a cliff.
I watched all 149 of Sullinger's missed three-pointers (non-back court shots) to try and find the cause. I found that 47.6 percent of his misses were short (front rims or air balls) and 37.6 percent were long (back rims or backboard). The rest were missed to the left or right side.
While there is no direct correlation, usually shooters who inconsistently miss short and long use their arms too much when shooting. One of the primary causes for using too much arm is fatigue, since the player is unable to generate enough power from their lower body.
If the Celtics are really looking to model Sullinger's game after Kevin Love, then he's going to need to continue shooting threes. And it's possible we could see that progress just this season; by simply losing weight Sullinger's three-point percentage could soar because he'll have more power from his legs.
Stamina and Defense
Sullinger played a respectable 27.6 minutes per game last season, but he was often fatigued, especially on the defensive end of the floor. While Sully isn't expected to be a defensive stalwart, losing weight should help his lateral quickness.
Getting faster will be especially important for Sullinger as he makes the transition to power forward. Now there is a higher chance he'll be matched up against stretch forwards, which will put him on the perimeter. Staying energized for extended periods of time will help him stay on the floor, though improving his technique is still crucial.
Stamina and Rebounding
Sullinger should also improve on his already terrific rebound statistics because he won't get sluggish nearly as fast. He snatched 48 percent of his contested rebound opportunities last year, which ranked sixth in the NBA, according to SportVU. Sullinger, even with the weight loss, is still a load to handle for opposing bigs, but being in better shape will better allow him to use his 85-inch wingspan to swallow up rebounds.
There's no saying just how much shredding fat could help Sully next season, but he will definitely improve in some way. He averaged 17.3 points and 10.6 rebounds per 36 minutes last season, and it wouldn't be too stunning if he put those numbers up even in just 32 or 33 minutes per game this season.
It's easy to forget that Sullinger has a lot of untapped talent. He was highly recruited out of high school, RSCI's No. 2 player in 2010, and he would've been a top five pick had he declared for the draft after his freshman season at Ohio State.
The only real two major red flags on Sully when he entered the 2012 draft were his weight and his back. Fortunately, he fell to the Celtics with the No. 21 pick.
Now the back is fixed after surgery in 2013, and this summer he has worked hard to shape his body into what it needs to be to succeed. Entering year three with the Boston Celtics, I'd say Jared Sullinger is ready to prove all the Twitter haters wrong and have a career year.