NBA notes: Sullinger silencing skeptics
So far, the Celtics have to be thrilled close to 20 teams took a pass on Jared Sullinger.
That's not to say Sullinger is headed to the NBA All-Star Game -- but based on early returns at the Orlando Summer League, he should be a more-than-viable backup to Kevin Garnett at power forward. And Sullinger should contribute right away.
In his first three games with the Celtics' summer team, Sullinger scored 20 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and scored 16 points, respectively.
Read: This week, no one's talking about Sullinger's back issues or the fact he was "red-flagged" by NBA doctors. He's shown an ability to power his way over taller defenders, draw fouls, hold his position near the paint and work his way toward the basket for easy shots.
Sort of like he did in his two seasons at Ohio State.
Then again, he tallied just 11 points on 2-for-9 shooting Thursday -- but that may have had more to do with him playing his fourth game in four days than the opposing defense.
Besides, Sullinger isn't going to be counted on to be The Man in Boston. He only needs to make the most of his minutes and contribute to a team that is already a winner. There seems to be little doubt he's setting up the C's for the future.
All this from a guy who was drafted 21st overall.
"Coming out of college, I heard a lot of people compare him to (Cavs forward) Samardo Samuels," said one scout. "That's ridiculous. Samuels is just fine, but the only thing they have in common is their wide frames. Sullinger is so much more skilled it's not funny. He understands the game and is a tireless worker. If he stays healthy, a lot of teams will regret not (drafting) him sooner."
The scout went on to predict Sullinger would be an immediate starter for a lot of teams. "In some situations," the scout said, "he'd be a go-to guy."
Of course, no less than Sullinger predicted this. Prior to the draft, he confidently stood up for himself, saying he couldn't wait to prove his critics wrong.
So far, he's made the most of that opportunity.
-- I really like what I've seen from Carleton Scott, a forward for the Nets. Scott is 6-foot-8 and went undrafted out of Notre Dame in 2011 and played in Spain. He's been a high-energy guy who runs the floor and finishes well in summer league. I expect him to be in training camp with someone come October.
-- Tyshawn Taylor, a second-round pick out of Kansas, has also looked good. Taylor is a solid defender and done an underrated job of running the offense. The Nets may have found their long-term backup to Deron Williams at point guard.
-- Taylor was drafted by the Trail Blazers (No. 41) and immediately shipped to the Nets for cash. Nets coach Avery Johnson described Taylor's game this way in the New York Post: "Sometimes it's hit or miss. He'll make good plays and then another time maybe there is a turnover, but it's not all his fault. I think sometimes the spacing on the floor [is an issue]. We've got to work on spacing and utilizing him in different ways."
-- Big men Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O'Quinn have both been better-than-solid for the Magic. The two draft picks won't replace Dwight Howard (whenever Howard is finally traded), but they do give the Magic's frontcourt a bright outlook. Nicholson, drafted 19th overall, looks like he should've been a top-10 pick.
-- Point guard Jacob Pullen (76ers) has been another good one. Pullen went undrafted as a point guard out of Kansas State, perhaps because of his size (6-0 on a good day). But he's displayed calmness directing the offense and proving he can score when needed. Interestingly, Pullen was mostly known as a defender during his college days -- and is showing NBA-ready skills on that end, too.
-- I'm starting to think I was wrong about Miles Plumlee. The center out of Duke was selected No. 26 overall by the Pacers, or somewhat higher than projected. But he's been a rebounding machine in Orlando, getting good position and springing toward the ball. Basically, Plumlee looks like a legitimate backup to Roy Hibbert.
-- Another Dukie, Kyle Singler, is showing signs that a season playing professionally in Spain served him well. Singler was drafted by the Pistons in the second round in '11. He's been very fluid in hitting the perimeter shot and finding open teammates, as well as displaying decent athleticism in Orlando. The Pistons may have found themselves a steal.
-- Perry Jones tweaked his ankle, but prior to that, the 6-11 forward out of Baylor also showed he has the potential to make an immediate impact off the Thunder's bench. As magic.com's Josh Cohen wrote, "With an intriguing blend of athleticism, fluidity and mobility, one can anticipate Jones having an immediate impact on a championship contender next season." Not bad for the No. 28 overall selection.
-- Perhaps the most impressive guard in Orlando: Maalik Wayns. The former Villanova point guard went undrafted, but plays with an edge and, understandably, a bit of a chip on his shoulder after going undrafted. Wayns plays for the Magic in Orlando, but will join the Warriors in Las Vegas next week. Scouts now expect him to make it as a contributor in the NBA.
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