LAS VEGAS -- Jared Sullinger was raised on rebounding.
When most children were learning about the importance of sharing and playing well with others, he was being taught the value of crashing the boards and nabbing loose balls.
At the age of four.
My pops always told me to grab it off the boards, Sullinger told CSNNE.com at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League. Thats what I do.
The 6-9 forward averaged 9.2 rebounds his sophomore year at the Ohio State before being selected this summer by the Celtics with the 21st overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Sullinger averaged 8.3 rebounds a game at the Orlando Pro Summer League. With another week of summer league play coming up in Las Vegas, he's looking to improve his performance on the glass.
I played OK, he said of his Orlando performance. I could play better. I missed a lot of shots I normally make. Then Ive got to get on the offensive rebounds a little bit more and the defensive rebounds a little more. So youll probably see a little bit of that here.
Celtics Summer League head coach Tyronn Lue offered another perspective on Sullingers performance.
I thought since hes been such a great passer, we had him catching the ball on the elbow, playing away from the basket a lot, pick and pop, and stuff like that so he couldnt really get on the offensive glass, Lue said. But defensively, I thought he did a good job on the boards.
The Celtics were impressed by Sullingers rebounding skills when they drafted him. Adding another big to crash the boards should boost their roster. They were the worst rebounding team in the league last season with 38.8 per game and a differential of -4.4. They also finished last in the NBA in offensive rebounds with 7.7 per game, 6.2 less than the league-leading Chicago Bulls.
Sullingers not a sprinter by any stretch, but hes a rebounder and youve got to have the ball to run, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said on draft night. So I think thatll be important."
While Sullinger may be entering his first NBA season, the 20-year-old has been embracing rebounding for more than 15 years.
Its always a focus, he said. If you can rebound the basketball, youre always going to have a job here in the NBA. All youve got to do is rebound the basketball, and I take pride in that.