Sullinger sets Celtics' season high with 16 rebounds

Sullinger sets Celtics' season high with 16 rebounds
January 10, 2013, 6:38 am
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BOSTON -- Last June, Jared Sullinger waited for his name to be called in the 2012 NBA Draft. Twenty players were chosen before the Celtics selected him with the 21st overall pick, a move they were excited to make that late into the first round.
The Celtics praised Sullinger's rebounding early on. While many teams passed on the forward due to concerns of a herniated disc, the Celtics were looking for size and brought him on board.
Seven months later, the rookie set a new team season high with 16 rebounds (including five offensive) against the Phoenix Suns.
"You've got to have a go-get-it attitude when it comes to rebounding," said Sullinger. "And that's what I have."
Sullinger has been a welcomed addition on a team that has struggled on the glass over the years. He is averaging 5.7 rebounds this season, including 10.0 per game during the Celtics four-game winning streak.
"I keep saying, 'Rebounds translate,'" said head coach Doc Rivers. "Most of the great rebounders aren't that tall when you think about it. They're big, they're physical, and they have great instincts. I think that's the number one thing. You have them big, you have them thin. Dennis Rodman was tall and thin -- he got all the rebounds. Just think about the list of great rebounders. They just have a knack for the ball, and they have great hands, every single one of them."
Sullinger's development over the season has given point guard Rajon Rondo a partner in transition. With Sullinger (6-foot-9, 260 pounds) crashing the glass and getting Rondo the outlet pass, the team has more opportunities for fast breaks.
"He gets the ball out quick," said Rondo. "When he gets the rebound, he doesn't hold it, he doesn't worry about a turnover. He just tries to get the outlet to me as quick as possible. To play with a big like that, it's big for our team so we can get to the break and get mismatches in transition."Said Kevin Garnett, "His timing, body positioning, he has the perfect body for rebounding. He can take the pounding and bump a little bit, he has great anticipation when it comes to the ball, and he has great hands. Put all that in the pot, you got Jared Sullinger. That's what makes him great."
The 20-year-old is quickly making an impression around the league. Following the Celtics win over the Suns, Marcin Gortat praised Sullinger after his first game against him.
"He's a talented, young big man, strong, big body," Gortat said. "Quite honestly, we focused on totally different guys. We focused on KG (Kevin Garnett), we focused on Brandon Bass, and we tried to make sure these guys aren't going to get going. That's just how it is. There's a lot of new, young studs coming into the league who are just impressing every night. That's how it was with me. Everybody was focusing back in the day on Dwight and I was doing the homework.
"One day it's not going to be easy for him because people will learn he's a good big man who can rebound the ball and who can get you a few buckets."
With others taking notice of his emergence, Sullinger isn't concerned about the teams that passed on him last summer. He is proving his future in the league is one to watch.
"I could care less," he said of his draft pick. "We're winning. We won four in a row, so that's my main focus is winning. Last June was behind me."