“Jared was wonderful. He’s such a smart player. When you watch him, you don’t see rookie. You just see a big fat guy playing basketball.”
—Doc Rivers, Celtics coach, throwing some kind words toward Jared Sullinger… sort of. Quote via the Boston Globe.
Sullinger had a 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, plus 7 rebounds in Boston’s Christmas Day win over Brooklyn. Sullinger did a lot of his damage in the second quarter, when the Nets went small and tried to switch everything on defense and it created mismatches everywhere that Sullinger and other Celtics could exploit. (Note to Avery Johnson: I know you are desperately looking for a defense that works, but a small lineup with Gerald Wallace at the four only works if the other four guys on the court are athletic and hustle like Wallace. Miami can get away with that. You can’t.)
Sullinger has looked like a good rookie draft pick by the Celtics. There were concerns about his body coming out of Ohio State — medical red flags dropped him down the draft board. But I was told those concerns were really about his ability to stick in the league long term (beyond 5-6 years), not if he could play short term. No doubt, he can play.
Carmelo Anthony can flat-out score the rock — that has never been the question. Even hurting last season for many of the 40 games he played, he averaged 24.2 points a game, had a true shooting percentage of 53.1 percent (right near the league average) while having the entire weight of the Knicks offense on his shoulders (32.2 usage rate, fifth highest in the NBA). When people (or players) talk about him being overrated, the discussion turns to defense or if he makes his teammates better. But there should be no doubt Anthony is an elite scorer.
He thinks he will be for a while longer — like another five years. Via Ian Begley of ESPN:
In fact, the 31-year-old Knicks star is confident that he can play at a high level for the next “four or five years.”
“Without a doubt. Without a doubt,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ final training camp practice on Saturday.
The Knicks better hope that’s true, they already made that bet with that massive five-year contract they gave him last summer.
Anthony’s age combined with him coming off knee surgery have a lot of people — myself included — expecting him to take a step back. Not a big one, but he is coming up at the point in his career where some open shots he used to get are now contested because he’s half-a-step slower, and some of those looks don’t fall as often. His jumper isn’t suddenly going to look like Rajon Rondo‘s, ‘Melo is going to get his points, but he may not be as efficient.
Fortunately, the Knicks have an improved supporting cast around him this season. That should take some offensive load off his shoulders, and maybe the Knicks offense will see better ball movement and start to resemble the triangle. If it’s just more isolation Anthony, it’s not going to be pretty.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.
General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.
McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.