It's been a while since our last Rookie Report due to the holidays and a lot has happened in the time since our last. Jared Sullinger has recently been seeing extended minutes while proving he can be a reliable asset to the team in winning time. Fab Melo has put up record breaking numbers in the D-League and hurt himself on door frames. Finally is Kris Joseph who unfortunately was released by the Celtics this past week. We'll look to recap each players last few weeks and what to expect in the weeks to come.
Jared Sullinger - In our last rookie report before Christmas we analyzed Sullinger's minutes and saw a steady decrease in playing time. Since then Sully has managed to regain minutes thanks to injuries to our front court and solid play in the time has has gotten. He ended up closing out December averaging 17.7 MPG compared to the 14.9 MPG we saw previous to Christmas. In the Celtics first four games this January, Sully has averaged 23 MPG and his numbers have increased with the extended time.
In January he's currently averaging 6.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Unfortunately due to foul trouble he has struggled to stay on the floor, falling victim to rookie treatment time and time again. Some of his best games have come against top opponents in the Celtics schedule, standing out on Christmas versus Brooklyn, out west against the Warriors, and last night at MSG against the Knicks.
Christmas day really seemed to be Sully's coming out party as he finished the game 6-7 for 16 points and 7 rebounds. Coming into the game the Celtics anticipated a physical, high intensity game following the brawl between Rondo and Humphries. He played a season and career high 33 minutes and was arguably the most efficient player. Since that game Sully has gotten continued praise from coaches and teammates and it was clear he had gained the trust of both with his play.
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 4: Jared Sullinger #7 of the Boston Celtics is fouled by Jeff Pendergraph #29 of the Indiana Pacers during the game on January 4, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
The Celtics had a dreadful road stretch on a west coast swing getting blown out in every game by double-digits. Against the Golden State Warriors Jared was the only positive take away. He shot 6-8 in the game for 12 points and 8 rebounds, five of them coming on the offensive glass.
Then just last night the Celtics faced division rival the New York Knicks for the first time this season. Sully faced a tough task facing reigning defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudimire. The game was very physical the entire night and the atmosphere felt like that of a playoff game. Jared didn't back down but instead contributed extremely well defensively while totaling 10 points and 5 rebounds. Tempers flared as KG and Carmelo Anthony got into an altercation in and after the game. When asked what he thought of the atmosphere at MSG Sully replied:
"That's testy? That's testy?" he asked. "I've seen way worse stuff in the '80s, and I wasn't even born in the '80s. So, if that's testy, I didn't see it."
The Celtics returned home today and face a five game home stand against numerous favorable opponents. Expect to see Jared play some extended minutes due to his recent success and the continued lack of depth in the front court. It'll be interesting to see if Doc decides to go back to starting Sully. Many believe this won't be the case as the Celtics finally have their starting five that were so good last year.
In addition, trade rumors have been all the talk in Celtics nation, particularly involving acquiring a proven big to add to our depleted front court. Many speculate if a deal was to be done Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger would have to be centerpieces. These rumors can be forgotten for now as Doc made it clear he has high praise and faith in both.
"Sullinger, man, I'm telling you -- Jared's a warrior. He's not going anywhere," Rivers said. "He's just a physical, tough kid, and it was fun to watch." (Full story here)
Otto Kitsinger/NBAE via Getty Images
Fab Melo - Fab Melo has been steadily developing in the D-League and has shown signs of brilliance and what's called "Fab being Fab". On December 22 the Red Claws faced the Erie Bayhawks and Fab had a record setting performance. After numerous games of mediocre play, Melo exploded in Erie achieving a triple double with 15 points, 15 rebounds, and 14 blocks. While this is an accomplishment in it's own, Melo also set a D-League record with the 14 blocks.
This sparked lots of talk about calling up Melo to the struggling Celtic front line but these rumors were quickly extinguished by Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge.
"Fab is a talented player, and I think that he’s just fitting in and learning our terminology; he’s coming from a different culture, Fab has gone through tough times in the preseason," Ainge said while detailing an emotional loss for Melo off the court. "Along with just the transition from college to the NBA, the language barrier -- I think there’s a lot of things that Fab has to overcome, and we’re just trying to be patient as we can with him and do his development, and just look at the big picture."
Just four days later Melo had another huge game against the Idaho Stampede. In fact, Melo just missed his second triple-double of his career tallying 32 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 blocks. This meant in the two games he averaged 23.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.5 blocks. Clearly the time Fab has spent in the D-League had done him well. Many were worried initially has he was performing just average to start. Doc said Fab needed to focus on his game and becoming dominant in the D-League. At this point he is surely doing that now averaging 10.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4 blocks. Coming into January, Celtic nation got news that Fab Melo had suffered another set back by injury.
Fab Melo has a mild concussion and is listed day-to-day
— Kevin Thomas (@KevinThomasPPH) December 31, 2012
This concussion sidelined Melo for their final game of 2012 and also forced the Celtics organization to recall Melo in order to receive team treatment. While no initial reports surfaced on how Melo got the concussion Fab himself later came out. He explained the concussion occurred in a comical matter as he banged the top of his head on the metal door hinge above a door frame in South Dakora. Luckily he the concussion was mild and Melo could laugh a little about the incident.
"I still have a little headache sometimes," said Melo. "I can't really focus on something for a long time. But that's it."
If you stand under 7feet don't ask me how I did it.
— Fab Melo (@Fabpmelo) January 3, 2013
Kris Joseph - Finally is Kris Joseph who was called up to the Celtics for a few games to add depth. Things were going well for Kris as he was playing well in Maine and seemed to be getting praised for his abilities. However, due to the Celtics struggles the team looked to shake things up in order to position themselves for a trade.
This came at the expense of the second round pick as the Celtics looked to open roster spots. While this is was very unfortunate it should be noted that Kris does have numerous options ahead. He just recently based the league's required physical allowing Kris to join any NBA team for a 10 day roster spot or return to the Red Claws. Because of his previous tenure with the Red Claws, Kris would be automatically be able to return to the team if he indeed decides to rejoin the D-League. Here at Celtic Green we'll be sure to report on any and all major news from Kris in the coming weeks.