Jared Sullinger: Celtics Would Be Wise to Start Rookie over Brandon Bass

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistOctober 13, 2012

Sep 29, 2012; Waltham, MA, USA;  Boston Celtics power forward Jared Sullinger (7) reacts during practice at the Celtics training facility.  Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

It takes guts to take a swipe at Kevin Garnett, but that's just what rookie forward Jared Sullinger did when asked about the nickname that the future Hall of Famer bestowed upon him in training camp with the Boston Celtics: (h/t Washington Post)

Most of the time, it’s just ‘Young’un. Knowing that he’s an NBA dinosaur, you’ve got to understand that being a ‘young’un’ is a good thing.

While everyone loves jokes, Sullinger has been all business at Celtics training camp, impressing both his teammates and his head coach with his ability on the court and his work ethic off of it.

Those talents have led Doc Rivers to consider starting Sullinger in what is a wide-open competition to play next to Kevin Garnett in the Celtics frontcourt: (h/t Boston Herald)

I guess so. He (Sullinger) has a chance. There are definitely open minutes at that spot. Jeff (Green) is going to play the 4, too, so that will take away some of the minutes. But it’s an open competition.

He’s been good, he’s been up and down. I don’t think anyone is jumping off the screen, and that’s fine. It’s been very competitive for the most part, and Jared has had his stretches. You also have to understand that he’s playing more with the second unit, almost exclusively. He hasn’t had a chance to blend in with the starters, and that’s what happens in the games. He’ll have a better chance. You’re going to look better if you’re playing with Rondo, Kevin and Paul than with others, and that’s a fact.

Rivers' decision to let Sullinger run with the starting five a bit during the exhibition season will give Sullinger a chance to form some chemistry with the three locks to start for the Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett: (h/t NESN)

I'll throw Jared in a couple games, then I'll throw Brandon in, I'll throw Darko [Milicic] in a couple times. You can read into whatever you want, but there have been no decisions made on anything yet.

We know what Brandon Bass is, and that's a tough, undersized forward with a mid-range jumper who's nothing more than average defensively and at cleaning the glass.

He's a perfect role player off of the bench, a role he started last season with before becoming a permanent member of the starting lineup in February.

Sullinger has a knack for grabbing offensive rebounds, can convert when he's around the rim and understands the game and what to do when he's on the court, as both Garnett and Pierce were impressed with his basketball IQ. (h/t Boston Herald)

This is a player who at one point in time was considered a lock to be taken in the lottery, most likely as a top-five pick in the NBA draft. His stock dropped due to concern about his back, not his ability.

When his career's over, we might say that Sullinger was just like Bass. Solid, but not spectacular. Or we might be calling him the steal of the draft.

He's untested in the NBA, and there's always a risk in starting an inexperienced rookie.

Experience comes over time, and Sullinger's time is now.

The Celtics have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by making sure that the first experience Sullinger has on opening night is to hear his name announced as a member of the starting lineup.