Many people today are relating today’s Boston Celtics to the Celtics of the 2007 offseason, the one where Danny Ainge shocked the world and traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in a move to transform the lowly basement-dwelling Celtics into NBA Champions and annual contenders. So, while making that connection, it can also be speculated that Jared Sullinger is a lot like Al Jefferson was, role-wise, with their respective Celtics squads. Some people adore ‘Sully’, and some people doubt his potential and want the Celtics to trade him for a big name (like the Celtics did with Al Jefferson for KG).
In my mind, Jared Sullinger is an absolute beast. He’s a great rebounder, especially on the offensive end, as he’s tied at 7th place in offensive rebounds per game. His post moves have developed nicely, and his offensive game is blooming game after game. Despite some shooting concerns, mainly the frequency that he jacks up an errant three pointer, Sullinger is a good shooter with the potential to be a nice post player and stretch 4 at the same time. Defensively he’s actually better than many expected him to be, and despite his lack of athleticism, he’s a strong player with a wide frame that makes him tough to move. Although undersized for his position, Jared Sullinger can play both center and power forward, but really excels when he plays at the 4 (evidenced by his 25.4 PER while playing the position). His second season in the NBA has been solid, despite coming off of a back surgery that ended his freshman season, and he still shows room for growth, and could be a major part of a contending team.
Al Jefferson, meanwhile, has become the leader of the Charlotte Bobcats, and perhaps one of the most impressive post scorers in the game. When he was on the Celtics he was a young player with intriguing potential with already solid play, yet he was traded in the deal for Kevin Garnett. While he and Jared Sullinger are somewhat alike, they are not exact in any way, but their roles can be largely related. With the large amount of trade assets the Celtics have at their disposal, Jared Sullinger could be the Al Jefferson of a deal to send an established star to the Boston Celtics. In my opinion, Sully could be an All Star in the future, and it would be a huge mistake to trade him for anyone but a sure thing, like KG was in 2007. Al Jefferson was traded for a good reason, despite forfeiting the future for the present and near future, and the deal that sent him away was also a large part of the Celtics winning their 17th NBA Championship.
While I don’t think that Sully has MVP-caliber potential, I do think that he has the chance to become the third player in a Big Three: an All Star reserve that can average 18-10 at his prime (if he reaches his full potential). While trading Jared Sullinger might net a nice return, I believe that getting any player below a sure-fire talent like KG was. Unless a trade is simply so good as to the point that you simply couldn’t pass it up, Jared Sullinger should be practically untouchable by the rest of the NBA.