Jared Sullinger, last month, was going through an up-and-down period.
On the low end, he committed two flagrant fouls in 24 seconds and was ejected.
On the high end, he had 25 points and 20 rebounds in a game.
The cycle continued from there into Sullinger’s last dozen games:
- Games 1-6: 8.3 points on 36 percent shooting, 7.0 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game
- Games 7-12: 19.8 points on 49 percent shooting, 12.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game
This time, though, perhaps the fluctuations have ended. Maybe Sullinger has finally turned a corner.
If there’s reason to believe the situation is different, it’s that Sullinger recently had a lesson from his father. Sullinger, via Jessica Camerato of Basketball Insiders:
“He came up and cussed me out,” Jared Sullinger told Basketball Insiders 0f his father. “I was thinking he had to tell me something or he wanted me to talk about how everything was going because he seemed worried about me. But instead the conversation just started off – well, his conversation started off – and I was just saying, ‘Yes sir. Yes sir. Yes sir.’ I was kind of in shock. He was telling me my body language sucks, my attitude sucks, I’m disrespecting the Sullinger name the way I’m acting on and off the court, and when he says off the court he means on the bench.”
“He cussed me out multiple times. Then he probably felt like he was good,” said Jared. “My dad always talks about karma. As long as you have karma off the court, you have karma on the court. Me, I would hold on to that game or hold on to that foul call throughout the whole game, throughout the next day, going into the next game, going into the next game, the next game. It happened and it was a snowball effect. Once it started rolling, it just got bigger and bigger and bigger, and I couldn’t stop it. … Finally it hit one of my cars, that’s what I say, it basically hit one of my cars and now one of my cars is damaged. But mentally I’m ok now.”
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If the Celtics trade Brandon Bass, Sullinger would get an even larger role, so this would be an opportune time for Sullinger to play better.
Sullinger, just 21, could definitely be a central part of Boston’s rebuilding. But there are still questions about his ability to stay healthy and his defense.
If the audition process for a long-term starting role intensifies soon, Sullinger should be primed for the challenge. At minimum, he knows where to get a pep talk.