While the Summer Of Love is finally coming to an end with Kevin Love on his way to Cleveland and Andrew Wiggins on his way to Minnesota, it doesn't seem like too long ago that Love as well Boston itself would employ an all-star power forward. It was only a matter of time before he ended up a member of the Boston Celtics. We all know how that turned out. At the end of the day, while Love is truly a great player at his age and will continue to put up great numbers in Cleveland, Boston has to figure out how it's going to get that kind of production from that position. And the truth of the matter is, the Celtics already have a player of that caliber at the position:
Call me crazy, but it really isn't. It was a foregone conclusion that Sullinger would be part of a package that went to Minnesota to bring Love to Beantown, but for obvious reasons it has not happened. That's not necessarily a bad thing for Boston going forward. Sully has shown that he is fully capable of being a very good power forward. In Love's and Sullinger's first full year starting, their averages are eerily similar:
Kevin Love - 11.1 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 1 APG (Rookie Year)
14 PPG, 11 RPG, 2.3 APG (Sophomore Season)
Jared Sullinger - 6.0 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 0.6 APG (Rookie Year/Bench behind Kevin Garnett)
13.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.6 APG (Sophomore Season, full-time starter)
There's no reason to think that Sullinger couldn't put up Love type of numbers fairly regularly. Not the 28 points and 25 rebound type of games, but Sully is fully capable of average 18 to 19 points per game and grabbing 10 to 12 rebounds a game as well. Considering he's not a high flyer or extremely athletic, he has a knack for grabbing rebounds. He's got a pair of very soft hands, capable of one handed rebounds, fending off other's in the process. He boxes out very well and he is an above average offensive rebounder. That alone will get him an extra 4 or 5 points a game. He's becoming a better passer then more used he gets to playing meaningful minutes. Now, I'm not saying he's a great shooter. But he posses pretty good range. He's fully capable of hitting a 15 to 18 foot jumper, while slowly developing a 3-point shot which will only make him a more versatile forward. It'll stretch defenses out and open up lanes for others. Coming out of college he already had a good post game as well and that's only improved since becoming a pro. His only knock is his defense. That is probably average at best. But now that he has a full year of coach Brad Stevens under his belt, there is a legitimate chance he can become a better defender around the rim. As stated before, he's not the most athletic player on the floor, so defending more athletic power forward's will be difficult for him, but I think he will come around in that sense.
So call it what you want. Maybe I'm just trying to justify the fact that the Celtics didn't grab Kevin Love when they had a chance. But the fact of the matter is, it's not the worst thing that could have happened to them. Sullinger is going to be a very good player the older he gets and it's also a possible reason why he wasn't included in a deal. Should Sully stay healthy, there's no reason to think that he couldn't match what Love can bring to the table on a nightly basis. Love won't be putting up those types of numbers with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in the fold. Some would say that Love HAD to put up number like that in Minnesota because of how poor the talent was around him for a time. Sullinger is capable of that and as the the talent around him gets a little better with more time in Stevens system, Sullinger will put up those type of numbers, minus the crazy stat lines. He isn't the sexiest player to watch, but his game is very good.
Next summer, if Sullinger has a very good year, the Celtics have plenty of assets to add around him, Rajon Rondo, and others in a big way. Look for Sullinger to average 15 to 16 points and 9 to 10 rebounds per game and further turn himself into a legitimate power forward in the Eastern Conference.
Here's a look at at 25 point, 20 rebound, and 4 assist performance by Sullinger. He can do this. If he can do little thing's like this on a nightly basis, there's no reason to think that he cannot become an elite player at his position: