As I've said before, I let my Insider subscription lapse last season because I was really upset with the NBA for the lockout and all of the games they were playing. But this year, I'm very excited about the roster Danny has put together and re-upped my subscription to Insider and I'm glad I did. There are great tidbits about the Celtics like the one I found in David Thorpe's article on the Summer League Rookies.
David Thorpe is well respected around NBA circles. He is the Executive Director of the Pro Training Center in Clearwater, Florida and also works for Scouts, Inc. At his Pro Training Center he has helped to train pro athletes including Udonis Haslem, Kevin Martin, Courtney Lee, Luol Deng, Jrue Holiday, Joakim Noah and many more. In his article on the rookies in Summer League, he breaks the rookies into 4 groups: Rookie of the Year challengers (The players who will give Anthony Davis a run for his money), The disappointments (Players who will get lots of playing time despite what they did in Vegas), Next in line (NBA rotation players, sooner rather than later), and Biggest surprises (Might not make rotations soon, but showed real potential).
Two players of particular interest made his list. First, Celtics' rookie, Jared Sullinger, made the "Next in line" list. Here is what Thorpe had to say about Jared.
Jared Sullinger | Boston Celtics
Summer stats: 12.3 ppg (35% shooting), 8.4 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.8 bpg
Sullinger is probably your winner of "most impressive of the summer." Not because of his huge production but because his steady play over almost three straight weeks of action. First, it was a strong debut in four games in as many days in Orlando. Then he followed it up with a few strong games in Vegas. Sullinger and his teammates were dead tired by the end of Las Vegas Summer League, in which he never played fewer than 24 minutes until the very last game on Sunday. Great hands, touch and rebounding prowess will force the Celtics to get him minutes just as soon as he learns their defensive plans, which could be by opening day. His presence makes Kevin Garnett's move to the center spot academic.
That's some high praise from someone who evaluates players for a living. One of the announcers in Orlando made the comment that Sully was just a strength and conditioning program away from being a stud in this league. In spite of needing to lose a little more weight and gain better conditioning, Sullinger was able to play 10 games in 14 days and be effective and play well in every one. Maybe Doc wasn't far off when he told Greg Anthony that Sully might start at power forward from the start of the year. I have a feeling it will all hinge on how quickly he catches on to the defensive system.
The second player that may be of interest to Celtics fans is Austin Rivers, son of Celtics coach, Doc Rivers. Austin was highly touted and was selected 10th by the New Orleans Hornets. There were many rumors that the Celtics wanted to move up to draft Austin. Many Celtics fans are breathing a sigh of relief after seeing how Sully played in Summer League and comparing that to how Austin played. Mr. Thorpe included Austin in the disappointments.
I liked what I saw from Rivers, but he didn't get much run after being pulled before their third game. He looked like a true point guard to me, running the offense and looking for teammates before himself. His fundamentals are strong, but it's going to be a while before he learns how to beat his defender and then score against the help. He already can do the first part. The second part is far trickier, especially when you can't just overwhelm the help physically like Rose or Russell Westbrook.
It seems that every day there is something new to get Celtics fans excited. David Thorpe's evaluation of Sully is definitely something to get excited about. I would add one thing- I might even put Sully into the category of a player who will give Anthony Davis a run for his money because by the time the season comes around, he will be in good shape after working with the conditioning coaches between now and then and that can only mean good things for the Celtics.