Sullinger is a Celtics asset
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics rookie forward Jared Sullinger had a preconceived notion of what playing with veteran big man Kevin Garnett might be like.
He braced for the worst – Garnett yelling at him, Garnett embarrassing him, Garnett cussing him out like only Garnett can.
“I was just mentally being prepared to not cry on the bench,” Sullinger said.
Turns out, Sullinger hasn’t cried (at least that he has admitted publicly) and the experience has been rewarding for him after his two years playing for Ohio State.
“I learned early it’s not how loud he says it, it’s what he’s saying. Thanks Pops,” said Sullinger, whose work with Garnett is helped through the lessons learned from his dad, Satch, who coached him in high school. “I was blessed to have an angry coach.”
Garnett mentors Sullinger, and they have bonded -– the old man and the rook.
“His basketball IQ is very high,” Garnett said. “He gets it. He understands what we’re doing here. He’s bought into what we preach here.”
Wise for a rookie, Sullinger relishes the unique opportunity to work with and learn from Garnett, and in the process, the 6-9, 260-pound 20-year-old has worked his way into a part-time starting role in Celtics coach Doc Rivers’ revolving lineup.
“He’s still got a lot of work but he does a lot of good things,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He has a veteran mind. He does not play like a young guy, except he makes rookie fouls. He’s just a good spirit, and it’s good to have him in the locker room.”
Sullinger is strong near the basket with good footwork and finishing ability and is active on the offensive glass. His mid-range jumper is average, but it is sound and will improve. On defense, Sullinger understands concepts and what the other team wants to do. But he is not used to the speed and precision just yet.
“When you’ve got Kevin Garnett in your ear, I’m learning every day,” Sullinger said. “It’s like that every day. Kevin is constantly moving his hands, talking and you just listen and you’re learning everything he sees. … [For more on Sullinger, taking Garnett's counsel, is a Celtics asset, click here.]