Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston asked me to share my thoughts for his Celtics Summer Forecast on which Boston Celtics rookie would make the greatest impact this season. The answer, methinks, is pretty obvious. (ESPN Boston)
Fab Melo’s more raw than a 13-year old’s knee after a biking accident. Kris Joseph is a second-round pick playing behind Paul Pierce and Jeff Green (assuming the latter finalizes his imminent deal). Jared Sullinger is the second two-time First Team AP All-American the Celtics have ever drafted, putting him in the halfway decent company of Larry Bird.
If I had any money whatsoever in my bank account, I would bet it all on Sullinger becoming Boston’s most productive rookie.
The 6-foot-9 power forward possesses a calm intelligence with the basketball, hands like baseball mitts and a jump shot which didn’t look great during the summer but allowed him to shoot 40 percent last season at Ohio State while attempting more than one 3-pointer per game. Sullinger should become a rare rookie to crack Doc Rivers’ rotation, partly because he’s Boston’s only backup power forward, but also because he’s polished and heady.
The rookie doesn’t arrive in Boston without flaws, though. He wears an extra layer of human flesh; couldn’t jump out of a toddler’s sandbox; and struggled to score against length during summer league, shooting just 30.2 percent during five games in Las Vegas. The bad news is that his athletic limitations are real. The good news is that he’s smart enough to make adjustments and has already hired a personal chef to improve his conditioning.
Melo could be forced into frontcourt minutes if the Celtics suffer through another injury-plagued season and Joseph impressed during summer league. But, barring injury or unforeseen circumstances, Sullinger should be Boston’s most helpful rookie.
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