Can Jared Sullinger Become An All-Star? [Video]


Captain Obvious statement: the 2015 NBA All-Star Game is not going to feature any players on the Boston Celtics.

This is to be expected, as Danny Ainge shipped any player who was even close to good enough to earn votes out of town.  This trend won’t last forever – eventually, Ainge will allow good players to remain on the roster – and popular opinion seems to be that rookie point guard Marcus Smart is the current Celtics player who has the best shot at becoming an All-Star.

But what about Jared Sullinger?

While I agree that Smart seems destined to succeed in the NBA, Sully has shown progress each of the three-years he has played in the NBA.  Could he actually earn consideration for future All-Star teams, perhaps before Smart?

Let’s compare Sullinger’s numbers to an All-Star that the Boston Celtics were reportedly looking to make a trade for this summer: Kevin Love.

Why Kevin Love?

Sully was being compared to Kevin Love way back in his college days, and it’s easy to see why.     From size and weight, to wingspan and hops, these two guys scream “brother from another mother.”

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Sullinger and Love are, simply put, built from the same mold.  They both play under-the-rim basketball, have great hands, and are tough to keep off of the glass.  They also like to stretch the floor by stepping back and shooting the 3-ball, and struggle to score against taller, longer opponents.

They’re built the same; they share a similar playing style; and their kryptonite is the same color.  So, does this mean we can expect Sullinger to follow Love’s path to the NBA All-Star game?

Looking At The Numbers

Jared Sullinger is currently playing in his third season in the NBA (although I feel compelled to point out: Sully played a little over half a season in his rookie year).  By this point in his career, Kevin Love was on his way to being named to his first All-Star team as a replacement for the injured Yao Ming.  Clearly, Sullinger is not playing at the same level that Love was playing at by his third year.

Jared Sullinger, Years 1-3

Kevin Love, Years 1-3

I can throw some more numbers your way – for example, Love grabbed 21%, 21.5% and 23.6% of his team’s total rebounds during his first three years and had win shares of 5.3, 4.9 and 11.4 during those seasons; Sully’s numbers by comparison are 17.5%, 16.7%, 15.7%, 2.7, 3.9, 3.2 – but you probably see all you need to see.  By his third season in the NBA, Love was a double-double machine (he recorded a double-double in 53 straight games), led the league in rebounds per game, and was named the NBA Most Improved Player Award for his efforts.

Jared Sullinger has not shown the type of growth that Love has in terms of scoring or rebounding, and still has a long way to go when it comes to establishing himself as a legit stretch-4.  Sully also does not get to the line as much as Love, possibly because he settles for more 3-balls than Love.   There are nights when Sullinger flashes signs of dominance – last night’s  26 point, 9 rebound and nine free throws attempted effort, for example – but he has still yet to find that consistency that Love displayed so early in his career.

More from Hardwood Houdini

This comparison is not mean to provide a definitive answer to the question, “Can Jared Sullinger become an All-Star?”   It’s clear that Sully is not playing at the same level that Kevin Love was playing three years in, but then again, a quick look at Love’s numbers will show you that his third season is still considered his best season in many ways – he’s never averaged more than 14 RBG since then, for example, nor has he ever broken 40% from three-point territory since 2010-2011.

Jared Sullinger has plenty of time to develop his game, strengthen his outside shooting, and find the consistency to terrorize opponents on a nightly basis.  Still, it’s clear that he has a lot of work left to do if he wants to move beyond simply being a good player and graduate up to the level that would make him an All-Star candidate.

Enjoy Sully’s highlights from last night, and let me know what you think about his chances of becoming an All-Star!