Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Can Jared Sullinger Finally Put It All Together?

Jared Sullinger (Getty Images)
The Jared Sullinger bandwagon is quickly filling up. You can save me a seat, but no way I'm hopping on just yet.

Danny Ainge decided to not sign Jared Sullinger to a multi-year extension and it just so happens that the game after that news broke, Sully puts up his best game in a Celtics uniform. Coincidence? I think not.

Sullinger's time as a Celtic can probably be summed up in one word : frustrating.  Between his ill timed injuries and his very public battle with his weight, Sullinger hasn't been able to put it all together on the court on a nightly basis. There are always these flashes but never consistent performances to show that he really is turning the corner to what most think he can be in the NBA.

Yet, here we are again. We just watched him probably play his best game as a Celtic where he not only showed his talent but showed  an intensity that has been missing in his game for a while.

In his huge game against Washington, Sullinger posted 21 points and 8 boards was 9-13 from the field, including 3-4 from deep . The numbers are great but he also had the best play of the night were he did his best Dave Cowens impression and dove for the loose ball while simultaneously leading the fast break from the floor with a picture perfect pass to lead to an easy basket.
Jared Sullinger (Getty Images)

If Sullinger can transform from his inconsistent, sometimes lazy self to a contract year driven, loose ball diving, 58% fg shooting potential all-star on a nightly basis, then this could be Danny's smartest decision yet.

I'm holding course though. I'm not sold on the new Sullinger just yet, as much as every part of me wants to be. He needs to show this on a nightly basis for me to believe. If that isn't enough motivation for Jared to keep this type of play up, there are also the 29 other teams that are keeping an eye on him. Whether it's a trade at the deadline or free agency at the end of the year, Sullinger has nothing guaranteed for next year. It would strongly behoove him if he shows his dominance to turn into dollar signs eight months from now.

One reason that I am skeptical of this hot start for Sullinger is the fact that he is currently shooting 46% from behind the arc. Those are great numbers, don't get me wrong but it could spell disaster down the road.  He will not continue to shoot any where near this clip all season, but I guarantee if he continues to find early season success from three, his attempts will go up incrementally.  This is not a good thing for the Celtics. Sullinger is a career-28 percent three-point shooter. Water will find its level and these shots hes nailing now, will turn into a cringe inducing flashback of Antoine Walker in the later years as a Celtic.

The good news is Sullinger has dialed back his attempts in the early part of the season, he is down to 2.6 attempts per game from 3.2 last year.  Instead, he has moved in towards the basket to where he can be truly dominant. If he can stay down low, dominate the boards, and give the Celtics a true post presence then he could easily become a dominant player in the Eastern Conference.

We will get another chance to see if Sully will continue to trend upward as the Celtics take on the Milwaukee Bucks.

Sean Dutra
Follow on Twitter: @SeanDutra

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