Blakely: Sullinger needs to keep shooting 3s

Blakely: Sullinger needs to keep shooting 3s
December 1, 2013, 12:45 am
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One of the best things about Jared Sullinger is his ability to get deep post position and score on just about any big despite being shorter than most players he's matched up against.

But as his game evolves, the same must be true for his shot selection.

And so that brings us to the present where the burly power forward is also showing he can knock down 3s as well.

When you see him score the way he can around the basket and you hear nothing but crickets when searching for someone with similar around-the-rim talent on this Celtics roster, the calls for him to anchor himself in the paint are justified.

The Celtics need points in the paint.

Sullinger is good at scoring points in the paint.

Pretty simple, right?

Not exactly.

While Sullinger's value as an interior scorer is far greater than that of him as a long-range shooter, he has to show discernment on both fronts if he is to ascend to the level that he is surely trending towards.

Sullinger isn't playing like a guy who figures to be simply a part of the Boston Celtics' future.

He's playing with the swagger of a franchise player, something this team desperately needs.

The way he rebounds.

The improvements he has made as a defender.

And while he won't remind anyone of former Celtic Gerald Green when it comes to playing above the rim, there's no doubt that he's a lot more explosive going to the basket now after having had season-ending back surgery in February.

But still, does that mean he needs to become a 3-point shooter?

No, it doesn't.

But it has to continue to be part of his offensive arsenal.

That said, Saturday's game at Milwaukee was one of those nights when Sullinger should not have taken a single 3-pointer unless the nearest defender was in Sheboygan, WI.

Why?

Because the Bucks have no beef on the inside except for Zaza Pachulia.

Beyond him?

Nada.

The Celtics fed Sullinger a healthy diet of low-post passes in the first quarter and Boston built a pretty sweet nine-point lead.

But then the guards fell in love with trying to see the ball fall through the net on their terms, and got away from the process - feeding big men in the post like Sullinger and Vitor Faverani -  that made that happen.

Mid-range shots. Pull-up jumpers. Baseline jumpers.

One by one, they started to clang off the rim.

And there was Sullinger, the most dominant low post player in the building, spending way too much time on the perimeter and not enough time punishing the Bucks down low.

But Milwaukee is by no means the standard for NBA frontcourts.

Not. Even. Close.

On most nights, Sullinger is going to have to contend with more physical play around the basket, which will make those sweeping hook shots and lay-ups a lot tougher to convert. 

But a number of those matchups will have him facing a bigger, slower defender.

And if there's one thing about NBA big men is this: they hate to defend away from the basket.

That is why Sullinger's 3-point shot has to continue being an available weapon, but one used liberally in certain matchups and sparingly in others.

Look back at the Cleveland game on Friday where Boston's centers were at times matched up with Andrew Bynum who has about as much speed as a turtle running on one leg ... backwards.

And so against the Cavs, those 3-balls were flying with ease because they were so open.

Not to worry too much about Sullinger.

He'll figure out when to pull the 3-point trigger or when to pummel some light-in-the-pants wannabe big who tries to stop him from scoring.

That's what franchise players in the making do.