Boston Celtics Bigs Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger Continue to Play Well, Despite Little Recognition
Questions surrounded both Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger heading into the 2013-14 season. The value of both forwards was in question, and many wondered how – and even if – each would fit in to the new-look Celtics as they move forward.
For Sullinger, many worried about both his conditioning and his off the court antics. The 21-year-old had just come back from a back procedure, and many wondered if he would return to action in shape and ready to play for the start of the season. Couple that with his domestic violence case, which was ultimately thrown out, and many worried about the maturity of the former Ohio State Buckeye star.
And then you had Bass – the nine year veteran who earned the nickname “no-pass Bass” early in his career for his selfishness. Many wondered if Bass would truly help Boston, who was starting fresh with a new coach and a new-look roster. Bass has proved time and time again that he is a big game player who never shies from the bright lights, and some saw that fitting in with a contender and not the C’s.
In very similar fashion, both Bass and Sullinger have proved the doubters wrong so far this season, and on both ends of the floor.
The most simple example comes from the numbers. The Celtics are currently 8th best in the league in points allowed, giving up 96.6 points per contest. They are on the fringe of solidifying a reputation of a team who still wins with defense, even with Brad Stevens now at the healm.
And make no mistake, both Bass and Sullinger are a large part of the defensive success.
Take Bass, for instance, who owns the best defensive rating on the entire squad, according to ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. The C’s allow 98.1 points per 100 possessions with the 28-year-old on the floor – well below the team average.
And then you have Sullinger, who the Celtics are +45 with in the 427 minutes he has played. In a rather similar sample size of 485 minutes, the same Celtics are -114 when Sully is on the bench, according to Sean Grande.
The numbers speak for themselves.
Bass and Sullinger have been key night in and night out early on.
Then you look at things offensively, where both players average double-digits on the young, sometimes inconsistent Celtics.
Sullinger currently checks in at 13.3 points per game in just over 25 minutes, and had extending his range to the three-point area in just his second season as a pro. Bass is currently getting 10.8 points per game in 28.8 minutes, and shooting a career-best 88 percent from the line so far.
Even look at rebounding the basketball, where the Celtics have traditionally been one of the worst teams in the league in the last few seasons. Sullinger is averaging 7.4 rebounds a night, while Bass is getting 5.5, first and second on the team respectively.
If you put all the numbers together, you can easily see how large the impact has been from both players. The immeasurable stats factor in, as well. All you hear is good things about both. Their work ethic, vocal leadership on the floor, and aggressiveness set a good example for many to follow.
Boston currently sits 1 full game out of the eight-seed in the Eastern Conference, and you can bet that their success has a lot to do with both Bass and Sullinger.