No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

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No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by 112288 on Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:08 am

CSNE

A. SHERROD BLAKLEY

WALTHAM — Jared Sullinger is one of the more happy-go-lucky guys you'll find in the NBA.

He answers reporters' questions. He makes sure his veteran teammates have whatever it is they need. He takes Doc Rivers' chiding him to play better with the same level-headed demeanor when Rivers is praising him.

But beyond the nice-guy demeanor is a fiesty, physical banger that doesn't mind showing his nasty side on the floor.

"You don't bring the nice guy on to the floor," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "That's not going to get you anywhere. He understands that."

The nasty side of Sullinger has led to some pretty nice play for the Celtics who come into Friday's game against Houston riding a four-game winning streak.

And Sullinger's play has been instrumental in that run, a run that includes him tallying a career-high 16 rebounds in Boston's win over Phoenix on Wednesday.

"I always had that," Sullinger said. "I'm always aggressive especially when it comes to rebounding. That's just been me since an early age."

He added, "in between the lines I'm a little nasty."

And his teammates absolutely love the balancing act, one that many of them - Garnett included - can relate to.

Like Sullinger, those close to Garnett say the intense, menacing figure you see in games isn't anything like the eloquent, jovial, fun-loving Garnett they see off the court.

"A lot of things he wants to be in the league, I've attained some of them," Garnett said. "So I just try to give him that experience. He asks a lot of questions about ... various topics to be honest; and I share them. A lot of guys don't really open up themselves or share those experiences or stories, etc. And I try to do that."

Garnett added, "Jared's a good guy. He's a guy you want your daughter to bring home. Not saying he doesn't have a mean streak in him. We have a connection and it works."

Especially when you consider that Sullinger (plus-68) and Garnett (plus-43) have the two highest plus-minus ratios on the C's roster this season.

Sullinger attributes some of his nastiness to getting roughed up at times by older siblings.

The 6-foot-9 forward recalled a time when he was much younger and he was playing with his siblings and went up for a lay-up.

"I went up for a lay-up and Julian just pushed me into a pole," Sullinger said.

Bleeding at the time, Jared said he ran home.

"I'm crying to my mom and she said go see your father," Sullinger recalled.

After a brief conversation, Sullinger said his mom cleaned him up, patted him on the back and told him to go back out and play.

It was a tough love moment, one that Sullinger cherishes.

He learned first-hand the value in pulling yourself back up when you literally get knocked down, and keep playing.

That has translated into him being a tireless worker on the boards for the Celtics this season, a player who seems to make those around him better whenever he's on the floor.

As much as Avery Bradley has been credited with Boston's turnaround, there's no way to ignore the fact that Sullinger is seeing more playing time during this current run, either.

This season, Sullinger is averaging 5.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while playing 18.7 minutes per game. During the C's current four-game winning streak he's up to 9.3 points, 12.5 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field in 26.8 minutes per game.

"He's very poised," Garnett said of Sullinger. "You're not going to get under his skin; you're not going to rush him. And just when you think he's backing down, he's in your face."

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Re: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by mrkleen09 on Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:36 am

Love Sully. Turning into my favorite Celtic.

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Re: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by bobheckler on Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:48 am

Love Sully too.

I still smile when I think of the hard, but not dirty, foul he laid on Blake Griffin. In old school NBA that would have just been a good foul. Now, in today's wussified NBA it was a flagrant. No posterizing dunk though.

We sorely lacked muscle. No more.


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Re: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by tardust on Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:02 pm

Do we now have "Filthy and McNasty"?

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Re: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by bobheckler on Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:17 pm

Sully can throw a punch, but he can take one too. Just so much too like about this kid...

Sully gets about 1/4 of all the charge calls for the Celtics. He is a +7 (charges taken - charges committed), the most for any Celtic.


http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/celtics/post/_/id/4701088/chargewatch-sully-surges-to-top



WALTHAM, Mass. -- Doc Rivers had hoped to keep dinged-up center Jason Collins on the bench during Wednesday's visit from the Suns, but as Phoenix made a third-quarter surge to take the lead, the Celtics' coach was begrudgingly forced to insert Collins into the game for size.

Collins admirably attempted to give up his body -- despite nursing hamstring and ankle injuries -- late in the third frame, absorbing contact from Luis Scola in the paint as he dished the ball to Marcin Gortat for a layup. Collins hit the floor hard, but didn't get a whistle. That's when Rivers lost it, earning only his second technical foul of the season while screaming at referee Josh Tiven as play proceeded back up court.

"I ask my guys to take charges, and when they don't get them, that's one of those push-button things for me, because that's a physical play and this guy is injured, he's out on the floor, and he takes a pretty good charge," Rivers said during his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI on Thursday. "And, you know, the official at that time just said, 'No,' and kind of waived his hands like, 'Get up, you're flopping.' That upsets you as a coach because a lot of teams around the league don't take charges, and our guys are willing to put their bodies in harm's way, and I felt like he should have got the charge."

Before his team practiced on Thursday, Rivers elaborated on the importance of taking charges.

"I love charges, I just think it just breaks the spirit," said Rivers. "They think they’re going to get a layup, they don’t see anyone blocking their shot, and somebody does that, takes the hit, and you see the other team picking the guy up. It’s a frustrating play. And it makes you not want to drive anymore. Because a charge is physical for both guys, not just for the guy taking it. The guy driving doesn’t like falling to the floor either. It’s just a good play. I do get upset when a guy takes one and they don’t give it. It’s almost like there’s a rule sometimes that if you take two or three, well, we can’t give you five charges in a game. And I always say, 'Well, why not?’"

With that in mind, here's an updated look at Boston's individual leaders in charges taken (54 total) this season with help from data logged by Synergy Sports:

14 - Jared Sullinger
13 - Rajon Rondo
6 - Paul Pierce, Jason Terry
5 - Kevin Garnett
3 - Chris Wilcox, Collins
2 - Jeff Green
1 - Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass
0 - Courtney Lee, Leandro Barbosa

And, on the opposite end of the spectrum, here are Boston's individual leaders in charges committed (72) this season:

13 - Garnett
9 - Green, Rondo, Pierce
7 - Sullinger
6 - Bass, Wilcox, Collins
2 - Terry, Lee, Barbosa
1 - Darko Milicic




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Re: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by bobheckler on Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:22 pm


WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger attributes much of his basketball development to his three older brothers: James and Julian Sullinger, and Kevin Garnett.

OK, so there's no blood relation between Jared Sullinger and Garnett, and the "Big Ticket" initially bristled Thursday at the suggestion of being the "Big Brother," but he ultimately acknowledged the supporting role he has played in nurturing Sullinger this season.

Spearheaded by blossoming play at both ends of the floor, Sullinger finds himself the team leader in plus/minus through 35 games, having surged past the "Big Plus/Minus" himself. Coming off a plus-24 effort in Wednesday's win over the Phoenix Suns -- one in which he registered 12 points and a career-high 16 rebounds -- Sullinger now is plus-66 for the season (Garnett, the perennial leader in that category, is second on the team at plus-44).

That tells only part of the story. Sullinger endeared himself immediately with a relentlessness on the glass, but his defense has improved, he's quietly finding ways to chip in offensively without needing plays designed specifically for him and he's simply making good things happen on the court (as evidenced by his glossy plus/minus stats).

"I can always hear him in the back of my head," Sullinger said of Garnett. "He's always trying to mentor me, tell me what I can do, what he sees. Trying to make me see what he sees."

But a quiet toughness -- a venerable mean streak -- has emerged from a player who jokes that off the court he's as cuddly as a teddy bear. Heck, even Garnett noted, "He's a guy you want your daughter to bring home." Just don't put him on the basketball court with your daughter.

During Monday's slugfest with the Knicks, Sullinger earned some stripes with teammates. After producing a fourth-quarter block on Carmelo Anthony, Sullinger won a scramble for the ball only to find himself swarmed by Tyson Chandler. The two wrestled for the ball. Sullinger was unwilling to give it up to the hulking 7-foot Chandler and earned a whistle -- and a Chandler shove -- for his trouble.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers noted how Chandler -- infuriated by the rookie -- proceeded to bark at him on the Boston bench throughout the final frame. Back in teddy bear mode, Sullinger simply laughed at him. It's a careful balance between playing a physical game and not letting emotions overtake him.

That's a lesson he learned on the playground with his older brothers at age 6.

"A little story of mine: One day we went to the park, and it was me and my brothers. I went for a layup, and Julian just pushed me into the pole," Sullinger said. "I started bleeding, so I went running home. I'm crying to my mom, and my mom's like, 'Go see your father.' My father told me, 'Do you want a trophy saying that you're the best player ever, or do you want to go earn that trophy that says you're the best player ever?' And, you know me, I was like, 'Just give it to me.' He was like, 'No, go back out there.' So my mom cleaned me up. She patted me on the back and said, 'Good luck, baby.' And I went back out there, and we started playing again."

That's tough love. But it made Sullinger a tougher player between the lines.

Fast-forward to this summer. Sullinger, after watching his draft stock plummet due to red flags about his back, slid to the Celtics at No. 21 in June's draft. Sullinger would deem it a blessing, in part, because of the ability to learn under Garnett's tutelage.

The first time on the floor together during informal workouts, the 36-year-old Garnett welcomed the 20-year-old Sullinger to the league in big-brother fashion.

“He's very poised. You're not going to get under his skin, not going to rush him. Just when you think he's backing down, he's in your face. Practice every day is not a cupcake practice. We push the young guys here.” -- Kevin Garnett on rookie Jared Sullinger

"[Garnett] scored the basketball, of course," Sullinger said. "Kevin caught the ball in the post, opened up, did his thing: go to the left, step-back, couldn't guard it. He shoots the ball so high, you can't guard it. After he scored, he was running down the court, and he said, 'Welcome to the league, big fella.' I was like, 'Oh, OK, thank you.'"

Still not as ruthless as his actual brothers.

"No, Kevin has not pushed me into any poles," Sullinger deadpanned.

But make no mistake, he has pushed Sullinger, teaching him all the tricks gathered over the course of a decorated 18-year NBA career. Sullinger said he can hear Garnett barking at him from the bench, trying to give him pointers during games.

"I can always hear him in the back of my head," Sullinger said. "He's always trying to mentor me, tell me what I can do, what he sees. Trying to make me see what he sees."

When the idea of being a big brother to Sullinger was broached with Garnett on Thursday, he pondered it for a second before barking, "I have sisters."

It took him a bit, but he soon warmed to the designation, suggesting he's open to mentoring any of Boston's younger players through what he has seen and accomplished in his career. Garnett tried to compare it to his relationship with Glen Davis at the start of the Big Three era, but it's clear this might already transcend that. Garnett clearly has been impressed with Sullinger's pure basketball IQ, his mental makeup and his openness to learning.

"I don't know, we have a connection and it works," Garnett said. "I haven't really sat back and analyzed it, but every situation is different, and I try not to compare people and just go with what's in front of me. I just try to be there for him. You're going to go through enough things as a young guy, as a rookie, so I try to be there for the guy.

"He's very poised. You're not going to get under his skin, not going to rush him. Just when you think he's backing down, he's in your face. Practice every day is not a cupcake practice. We push the young guys here. Our practices are hard, they are emotional, they are filled with passion. I'm not saying that they are games, with popcorn popping and fans and [reporters] sitting three seats away from us. But practices are real, and they are serious; they get intense at times. That experience and going through that, and carrying it over to games, I think that's helped."

Garnett described the mentor role Sam Mitchell played for him in Minnesota, and a reporter asked whether Garnett is Sullinger's Mitchell. Again, he bristled, but he didn't fight it.

"When I came into the league, I was just someone trying to prove something to myself and everyone who doubted me," Garnett said. "And to this day, I think I'm still driven by those same things, never been short of encouragement, never been short of inspiration, things that are going to get me going. I don't know, I've always found an edge."

Sullinger arrived with similar inspiration from those who suggested he was undersized and who worried about his health. As Rivers is quick to note, he could have been a high lottery pick after his freshman season at Ohio State. Instead, he stayed another year and developed his game, and it was those medical red flags that forced him to slide.

"He comes in with a chip," Rivers said. "If he comes out as a [freshman], he's probably [No.] 1, 2 or 3. He comes out the next year, he falls all the way down to 21. I think there's a lot of things at play with Jared. I think he's getting better, obviously, in front of our eyes, and he's going to keep getting better. And his focus is what's improved to me; he's focused on every possession."

Rivers knows exactly who to thank for that focus: It's his older brothers, but especially Garnett.




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Re: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by sam on Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:42 pm

BobH,

What surprises me is that Rondo is only one charge-taken behind Sully. Do you have Chad Ford's address so I can forward that stat to him?

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Re: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by dboss on Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:00 pm

Sam

Lol

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Re: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by bobheckler on Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:03 pm

The new Beast of the East.



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Re: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by worcester on Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:32 pm

He must have learned that in ballet class. The fourth position.

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Re: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by cowens/oldschool on Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:27 am

He is a young beast with skill thats going to be a double- double machine, I see some monster 20-20 games for him by next season. Reminds me of a combo of Paul Silas and Moses Malone, two of my favorite players....boy did we luck out in the draft with this kid. Now with this kid figuring out the game and getting/earning his minutes we suddenly don't have a rebounding problem.

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Re: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by pete on Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:04 pm

This is going out to the members that have followed the NBA a lot longer than I. I am intrigued with the early impact of Sully. Other than Russ, Wilt and others that I cannot think of right now, who else, in their rookie year(early in the season) have had such an impact on the glass? Perhaps Rodman, Oakley?, Moses, Bird (of course) Cowens?

Then the next question would be, were any of them a 21st round picks?

Or should we just talk about forwards?

This kid has my attention!


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Re: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by sam on Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:50 pm

Pete,

No two contexts are exactly the same. But, in 1955-56 (the season immediately BEFORE Russell's arrival), Rookie Jim Loscutoff averaged 8.3 PPG and 8.8 RPG in 22.3 MPG.

On a "per 36 minute" basis, he averaged 13.4 PPG and 14.2 RPG. By comparison, Sully's averaging 11.3 PPG and 11.0 RPG per 36 minutes. I don't recall month-by-month results. But I do know Loscy fit in very quickly. The Celtics were pretty anxious to get him, given their rebounding weakness in the mid-50s. At 6' 5", his reputation was that he could touch the rim with his elbow. And he took a back seat to absolutely no one in the toughness department, even in that first season. He also had a legendary appetite for borscht.

In his second season, during which Russell arrived in December, Loscy averaged 10.6 PPG and 10.4 RPG in 31.7 MPG. His figures per 36 MPG: 13.1 PPG and 11.8 RPG. He was also extremely instrumental in bringing the first NBA Championship to Boston—especially in Game 7 of the finals.

Unfortunately, those two seasons were arguably Loscy's best. He became a victim of the minutes game and also incurred some fearsome injuries. Nonetheless, on a per 36 minute basis, he scored in double figures in every one of his nine years and averaged lower than 9.1 RPG (per 36 minutes) only once, when he had a figure of about 7.

In his final season, on a per 36-minute basis, he scored 10.4 MPG and had 10.5 RPG.

By the way, his rebounding record deserves special attention because, in a sense, he was "competing" with teammates for rebounds. I just looked up 1958-59. Besides Russ (23 RPG) and Loscy,(7 RPG) there were six other Celtics who had at least five rebounds per game. (And that's not on a per 36-minute basis.)

Sam


Last edited by sam on Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:59 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by international on Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:52 pm

Pete,Wes Unseld averaged 18.2 rebounds per game in 1968 with Bullets and was named both rookie of the year and most valuable player..

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Re: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by Outside on Sat Jan 12, 2013 7:17 pm

pete wrote:This is going out to the members that have followed the NBA a lot longer than I. I am intrigued with the early impact of Sully. Other than Russ, Wilt and others that I cannot think of right now, who else, in their rookie year(early in the season) have had such an impact on the glass? Perhaps Rodman, Oakley?, Moses, Bird (of course) Cowens?

Then the next question would be, were any of them a 21st round picks?

Or should we just talk about forwards?

This kid has my attention!


Pete
He's done a fine job, but he's hardly unique in his impact on the boards. Sullinger is currently averaging 5.9 rebounds per game. I used basketball-reference.com's player season finder tool to list players who had 7.0 or more rebounds per game in their rookie season. There are 186 of them.

http://bkref.com/tiny/IYTeR

There are 54 players who averaged 10.0 or more rebounds their rookie season. Wilt averaged 27.0 his first year, and Russell is next at 19.6. Blake Griffin is tops for active players at 12.1.

As for players drafted in a similar position (Sullinger was the 21st pick in the first round), the top three I found were Larry Smith of Golden State who was 24th pick and averaged 12.1 in 1980-81; Pete Cross of Seattle who was the 23rd pick and averaged 12.0 in 1970-71; and Lloyd Neal of Portland who was 31st pick an averaged 11.8 in 1972-73. So there are apparently quite a few players drafted in a similar position who rebounded well.

As far as recent rookies, the guy who comes to mind is Kenneth Faried, who averaged 7.7 last year as a rookie and was the 22nd pick. Faried is averaging 10.2 this season, 11th in the league, and if you've seen him play, you know you're watching a rebounder.

That's not to diminish the positive impact that Sullinger has, but it may put it in some perspective.

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Re: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by pete on Sun Jan 13, 2013 9:10 am

Thanks guys. What I get from your replies is that it has been a while since the Celts had a rookie like this.



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Re: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by bobheckler on Sun Jan 13, 2013 11:58 am

As far as Celtics go, Big Al Jefferson averaged 10.7reb/36mpg in his rookie year.

Sully is averaging 11.0reb/36mpg.

If you really want to blow your mind, Larry Legend averaged 10.4.

Big Al is considered a legit starting player and was the centerpiece in the trade for KG. Sully's ahead of him and Sully has improved/changed his rebounding techniques in the past week or two and has improved his rebounding.


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Re: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

Post by worcester on Sun Jan 13, 2013 3:23 pm

I hope Sully develops Big Al's superb low post moves.

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