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Hello All!! I took a little hiatus after the last article that I wrote somehow got locked into the word press application and was unretrievable. It truly broke my spirit. I put a great deal of effort into the piece, and to see it vanish…well, that hurt. Nonetheless, during my brief hiatus, I’ve been watching a little basketball. A few of the NBA preseason games have been televised in addition to attending the Wizards one and only home preseason game. Although there are a plethora of topics that I can explore, I am leaning towards focusing on rookies for a short while. If you’ve been tuned in to NBATV or TNT you would have seen the amount of attention the Boston Celtics organization has been receiving. So, I figured I might as well start with one of their rookies…Jared Sullinger
Having watched Jared Sullinger while he played at “The” Ohio State, I was impressed by his skill set and basketball IQ. He’s not blazingly fast nor does he possess a 40″ inch vertical. Despite sounding extremely cliché, what Sullinger lacked in athleticism, he more than equalized with his understanding of the game. He was acutely aware of everyone on the court, knew when the double team was coming and who would be open, methodically moved around the key to maintain spacing, and knew how to use his body such that he was always at the advantage whether it be for scoring or rebounding. While 20 other teams passed on Sullinger for players they viewed had more “potential”, the Celtics gladly scooped him up. Well, did the Celtics make a satisfactory decision? In my personal estimation, yes. Granted, it’s only preseason, but he’s currently averaging 11 points and 7 rebounds in 25 min of play. I’m definitely not a person that harps on stats because they are only an indicator for about 25% of what has happened during the game. After watching a few games, I noticed that Sullinger’s success can be greatly attributed to that frequently overlooked intangible identified as an IQ. He has a knack for knowing when to roll off a screen and when to slip it. He is keenly aware of when he should parlay around the mid post area and when he should flare out to allow space for dribble penetration or cuts to the baskets. And not to mention, he knocks down the 15′ with consistency and looks comfortable shooting the 3. He’s also astute enough to know when he’s in an advantageous position for scoring and when he should kick the ball back out and allow the guard to reset the offense. And if you’ve watched closely, Sullinger boxes out for offensive rebounds, which accounts for the fact that almost half of his rebounds are offensive. He sets screens to free up teammates, communicates on defense, makes the correct rotations on defense, all of which can’t be connoted by a numerical value. So when I hear people use the phrase “upside” or “potential,” I cringe because very little credence has been given to the importance of understanding yourself as a player and to the overall comprehension of the game. If players don’t posses the wherewithal to understand their strengths and weaknesses and coaches and gms don’t have the fortitude to extract the potential, then really, what’s the point? But I guess that’s why organizations such as the Celtics and Spurs are perennially successful. They can spot “potential” in the most unlikely of players.