Remember that play Wednesday night in which the Basketball Gods mercifully saved us from OT in preseason?
With the Celtics down two, Sullinger had the easiest shot of his life; a wide open put back layup after an air-ball 3 from Jordan Crawford, but he hit the front of the rim and missed.
Seriously, that was an easy shot. As easy as they get. But, again, the Basketball Gods saved us, and the Celtics lost by two points against the Raptors.
Here’s video of the play (via @MrTrpleDouble10):
See? Easy put-back.
Now, let’s not focus on the miss – which I’m truly glad happened – and focus on the important. Sullinger’s positioning on that play was beautiful.
He kicked Aaron Gray – a big guy – out of the way and ended up with nothing or no one between the rim and him. Had this game counted, the Basketball Gods would have let that shot go in.
But seriously, though, these kind of plays are why everyone speaks highly of Sully’s basketball IQ and his read of the game. The kid has more than a knack for the ball and great hands to get it, and he uses those two abilities all game long.
All those offensive boards and one handed rebounds he gets aren’t just dropping magically on his hands.
The ball ends up on him because of all the work he does from the moment he feels a shot is going up.
Watch the tape again and look at Sullinger the second Crawford gets the ball. He’s boxing out Gray, allowing him no chance at the board. He puts his body between the taller player and the rim, giving himself an excellent chance at getting the rebound even if being smaller than the defender.
Not everyone could do this even if they tried, though, but Sullinger’s body and huge back side is built to push around players to get positioning. Sullinger is a perfect example of knowing how to use your body effectively in the league.
We live in an era in which athleticism has started to overshadow the fundamentals, boxing out being one of them. Truly lacking athleticism, Jared plays old-school ball and he’s as effective as it gets with it. He would get no rebounds against Centers in this league if he didn’t box out hard every single time a shot goes up. He knows it so he’s always working to get inside positioning, giving him a far better chance at the rebound.
And that’s not the only part of it. Go to the tape again, and now focus on his jump. PERFECT TIMING. Sullinger jumps just in the second he needs to in order to get that ball right at the rim. That ain’t easy either. That requires practice, and most importantly a feel for the game.
Sullinger, probably as soon as Crawford released it, knew that was an airball, knew where the ball was going, and knew at what millisecond to go and get it.
Not focusing on the miss, which remember was a mercifull act from the Basketball Gods, this play from Sully was beautiful.
In 4+ seconds from when Crawford catches it to when Sully does, plenty of great basketball stuff happens.
These are the type of things in which Brad Stevens will focus. This basketball play speaks a ton of Sullinger.
The dude just knows how to ball.