Sullinger has smarts

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Sullinger has smarts

The Celtics are barely two weeks into the preseason, but the accolades are already coming fast and furious for rookie Jared Sullinger. Most recently, the focus has been on Sullinger's basketball IQ, with Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett both pointing out how well the rookie knows the game, and yesterday at practice, Rajon Rondo taking it to another level, saying that Sullinger is "probably the smartest rookie we've had since I've been here."

Before we get too carried away, let's take a second to remember the rookies who have played on the Celtics since Rondo joined the team: Gabe Pruitt, Glen Davis, J.R. Giddens, Billy Walker, Semih Erden, Lester Hudson, Luke Harandogy, Avery Bradley (smart, but was a nervous wreck as a rookie), E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson.

Right. So it's not like Sullinger has much competition. But more important than comparing him to past rookies, is the fact that Rondo thinks Sullinger has a strong IQ at all; strong enough to give his public blessing.

With guys as smart as Rondo or who fancy themselves as smart sometimes the hardest thing to do is give someone else credit for being smart. Guys like Rondo aren't easily impressed by other people's intelligence. And the fact that he felt the need to speak on the issue is an unbelievable sign. Because let's face it, with rookies, the game is just as much mental as it physical. Without the mental aspect, physical skills don't mean a thing. So at the very least, it's nice to know that Sullinger has that going for him. That after a mere two weeks, he's already earned the respect of the three most important guys in that locker room.

As for the physical? Sure looks like the kid can play the game as well as he understands it, but we'll find out more on Saturday in Hartford, when he gets his first taste of NBA competition.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

First Celtics practice 'a little different' but 'feels right' for Horford

First Celtics practice 'a little different' but 'feels right' for Horford

WALTHAM, Mass. – NBA players are creatures of habit so you can understand why Al Horford was just a little bit out of his element on his first practice with the Boston Celtics.
 
After nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Horford hit the free agent market this summer and signed a four-year, $113 million with the Celtics.
 
Horford acknowledged that his first practice with the Celtics “was a little different” but added, “It’s definitely a weird feeling, but it feels right to be here.”

Players, coaches, national pundits, the list is seemingly endless when it comes to folks who believe Horford is an ideal fit with the Boston Celtics.
 
“He can do score in the paint, shoot 3s, defend, pass, he can do it all out there,” Amir Johnson told CSNNE.com. “He’s going to fit in well with us.”
 
But like any rookie or newcomer to a team, Horford admitted he had some moments when he was a step or two late getting to where he needed to be on the floor.
 
“We’re running through a lot of plays, a lot of concepts being thrown out,” Horford said. “It’s a matter of getting comfortable with all the sets.”
 
As much as he will work to figure things out, Horford is wise enough to know he’ll need the help of his new teammates, too.
 
“I’m going to lean on a lot of the guys,” Horford said. “I’ll definitely ask a lot of questions. Avery (Bradley) already has gotten in my ear, anything I need he’s there for me. I just want to get acclimated as fast as I can.”
 
Horford also said that head coach Brad Stevens has been extremely helpful in assisting him in speeding up his learning curve.
 
“Coach (Stevens) is very sharp, very . . .  he explains things well,” Horford said. “He explains things well. He wants practice to move along. The pace of practice, definitely a faster pace.”
 
But you won’t find Horford complaining.
 
Horford is clearly excited about starting this new chapter in his basketball career.
 
“For me it’s more of a relief, finally being here in Boston, house, being settled,” Horford said. “Now we can just focus on the season.”