He’s out of shape. He will have back issues his whole career. He’s too undersized to play in an NBA frontcourt.
That’s what everyone said and continued to say when the Boston Celtics selected Jared Sullinger with the 21st pick in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft. In his sophomore season, not only is Sullinger proving his critics wrong, but he is also emerging as one of the best power forwards in the game today.
In his time at Ohio State University, Jared Sullinger was one of the extremely high-rated college players and was expected to go early in the first round of the draft. Despite his raw talent, Sullinger had been plagued by back issues which dropped him in the draft to the 21st spot where the Boston Celtics selected him.
In his rookie season, Sullinger showed sparks of greatness. He was able to shoot consistent jumpers and grab rebounds at will. This was a player the Celtics were in desperate need of to reach success. Sullinger had played 45 games into the 2012-13 NBA season when his infamous back problems sprouted up again. Sullinger would have back surgery and miss the rest of the season. Heading into the 2013-14 season, Sullinger was to be an important piece of a young team guided by new head coach Brad Stevens.
At this point in the season, Jared Sullinger is borderline All-Star worthy. Sullinger is averaging a career-high 13 points and 8 rebounds a game. In addition, according to ESPN Stats and Information, Sullinger leads the Celtics in plus/minus with an incredible plus 75. With Sullinger on the court, the Boston Celtics are a much better team.
In the past week specifically, Sullinger has played at a remarkably high level on a team with sub-par talent. He has 3 double-doubles this week including an eye-opening 25 points and 20 rebounds in an 88-83 win over the Toronto Raptors on January 15th.
There are two main reasons why Sullinger has been quite successful in the NBA. First, Sullinger may not be large in height, but he is large in his build. This allows Sullinger to bully his opponents in the post no matter how tall they are. Whether it is scoring in the post or rebounding, Sullinger has a high success rate at both.
Secondly, in this season specifically, Sullinger has been shooting more outside shots including three-pointers. He has been doing this with a decent amount of success. By adding this weapon to his already great talent, Sullinger has stretched his game to full court ability and is even more difficult to defend.
It’s time for Jared Sullinger to be recognized as great player in the NBA.