Thursday, May 1, 2014

Is Jared Sullinger the Celtics center of the future?

It seems like a great debate these days. Is Sully a center or power forward? In this NBA, Sully seems to be more of a center than forward. There is one big glaring weakness in Sully's game, and that's his ability to protect the rim. He doesn't have the length for it, and even the height.

Sullinger has the low post moves as a center, and the keen nose for rebounding like a true center. So is that enough to call him a center? Sullinger is listed at 6' 9", and 260 pounds. He's also listed as a center if that matters. So how does Sullinger rank in player "PER"? He's ranked 30th with a 16.42 PER among centers. Kris Humphries ranks 14th among centers with a 18.28 per.

The Celtics rookie Kelly Olynyk ranks 38th with a 15.27 per. I don't know if the "PER" stat is a great indicator, but it's still a measuring stick of some kind. I think Sully can play center, if he molds his body into a lean force. I'm not saying he needs to lose weight, but he needs to make the weight a healthy weight.

Sullinger ranked 64th in blocks, right behind Melo, which isn't ideal for your starting center. Bass, and Hump rank higher than Sully in blocks per game this past season as well. Sometimes stats leave out the important stuff, and you can argue that when you speak about Sully being a center or forward.

Sometimes a player plays a position that may not be natural when it comes to certain things and qualities. Magic Johnson was 6' 9", but he was meant to be a point guard. The point is, any given player may not fit the mold that's expected of them. Sully is a true center despite his lack of height and length.


  1. Magic was a pg because he LOVED distributing the ball. Rondo has that same mentality. In fact, to me, Rondo and Magic are elite that way. Rondo's the most like Magic that I've seen since Magic. I don't mean in terms of how they play, but in terms of that mentality.

    Now let's not pretend that Rondo, or Muggsey Bogues, could play center if they had the right mentality. Of course, you do need size. But Bill Russell wasn't a giant. Dave Cowens was probably the same height as Sully and not as thick (great leaper though). Parish was a 'legitimate seven footer', but Perk wasn't. We Celtics fans should know that a Center does not have to be a sequoia. But many of the young turks who vomit numbers don't seem to have much historical perspective. They love the phrase 'today's game'. God do they love that phrase.

    I remember back in the days when I played driveway ball, my Dad came out to play with us kids one time. He too played ball back in the day. That was an experiment he never repeated. See, my Dad learned the game when they barely dribbled, and they mostly shot set shots. The game of basketball changed so much between the fifties and the seventies that he simply could not compete with us kids. The game has not changed that much between the seventies and today. Yes, the players are bigger and stronger and faster, but ironically, that has in some ways made position less important, roles more fluid.

    When Dave Cowens came into the league, he was slotted to be a power forward. He liked banging by the hoop, but he also enjoyed handling the ball out on the perimeter and he had what was by the standards of those times a really good touch from what then was considered distance, and he was quite agile, despite his later reputation (which I think was due - as so often is the case - to him finishing out his career with a ravaged body). The thing is, Cowens had a fierce determination to control the basket area defensively, and to establish his low post game as the foundation of Boston's offensive attack. No one named him the center. He just became it.

    I think Sully will do the same, IF he strengthens his body, particularly his base. Because he is short, doesn't leap well, and isn't particularly long, he MUST dominate position. I worry about the think tank that runs this team. They should have established Baby as a low post guy, but they didn't see that he had a gift down there. Sully has much more of a gift. He has a good feel for low post moves, well above average. He needs to keep working on that. He has a great feeling for rebounding, for where the ball is going to be, and for establishing position. He needs more power. More agility would help too, but the key is power. We also need to have someone at the 4 who likes defense and can provide some rim protection.

  2. This is like a double article. lol
    The game is small now, and Sully fits right into that.

  3. Lol! The article is large, but the game is small...