|Posted by GeeZeeCeltics on October 7, 2012 at 8:50 AM|
Ah, this time of year is always fun and exciting in an odd way. On one hand, it is the return of basketball, of the Celtics. It is a chance to see how the new players look. It is also a time when the games are never truly serious and drawing conclusions is very vague because of the small sample size. Still, fans bite right into the first games, opening discussions about the makes and misses of the offseason, even though everyone knows only one game has been played so far.
Just like most Celtics fans, I, too, was very happy with Jared Sullinger's play, who finished with 16 points and 8 rebounds in 26 minutes. His admirable play spawned multiple questions by eager fans -- something along the lines of "should Jared Sullinger be a starter?" Of course, the time is not now to discuss matters like this - that may be a good topic for the mundane days of February - but Sullinger remains a very interesting player to follow as the numbers next to "games played" increase.
Personally, I would be elated if Sullinger became a solid part of the rotation. I have this irrational love for him. The same thing happened to me with JaJuan Johnson (that didn't go too well, did it?), but this is a whole another level. Sully is just someone who is very easy to root for. It already makes me happy to see him posting pictures of the team on Twitter, saying how much he is enjoying being a part of it. He already belongs more than Triple J ever did, I think. And that is what's important.
Jared just looked like he belonged on the court from the get-go, no jitters - nothing. This guy was running with the starters in what can be considered as his first game in the NBA and looked absolutely natural. Doc also mentioned this, saying that Sullinger "had great calm, for a rookie". This gets hugely overlooked, in my opinion, because it may be the one thing that gives me great hope that Sullinger will become a good player. This is the main difference between him and Johnson - JaJuan always seemed afraid on the court, unsure of what he was doing. Even though we can't see what's happening behind the doors in practice, I somehow got the feeling that Johnson was also a little intimidated by Garnett, that he didn't feel one with the team and, therefore, his progress was impeded.
But Sullinger? This guy just goes out there and plays ball. He's confident, and that is everything in the NBA. Just think back to last year, how Avery bloomed after he gained his confidence. To me, the sense of confidence was the most important thing I saw from Sullinger. It's what gives me a reason to think he'll be our go-to big man off the bench.
Of course, the season will be a long grind and there are issues that need resolving - for example, will Jared improve his defense? How will he play against taller players? But the most fundamental thing here is, as already mentioned, confidence. If Sully doesn't let his mistakes get to him, I think he has a great chance to learn from them, especially with Garnett there to tutor him. What we may be getting could very well end up as Big Baby Lite - a slimmer, better rebounder with a more polished offensive skillset and less of an ego. Man, would I love for that to happen.
But I've managed to run a full circle. I'm talking about all this, basing my argument on one preseason game. That's why I said that Sullinger will be very interesting to watch as games pile on - it will be critical to see how his confidence level changes. Let's just hope that my irrational (or is it rational?) love for Sullinger doesn't end up the same way it did with JaJuan Johnson. For what it's worth, I have a gut feeling it won't.