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If Jared Sullinger comes off the bench for Boston and plays about 20 minutes a contest as a depth player, he will have a productive rookie season.
If Boston expects Sullinger to play huge minutes and/or start while also expecting the Celtics to contend for a championship, all parties will be disappointed. Brandon Bass should be getting the starting role, not Sullinger.
To his credit, Sullinger is having an excellent preseason. He’s averaging 10.9 points and 7.0 rebounds per game on 56.1 percent shooting. He looks like he'll prove to be a steal for Boston, but when the real games start, he needs to be coming off the bench.
Bass is not the long term fit for the Celtics power forward position, but he fits better for now. He and Kevin Garnett had a great feel for each other last year and Bass' defense improved dramatically over the season. According to Synergy Sports, Bass allowed just .69 points per defensive possession which was 16th best in the league.
Sullinger can make the case he's a better rebounder than Bass. NCAA stats and NBA stats don't make for the best comparisons, but Bass had a true rebounding percentage of 11.5 percent last year compared to Sullinger's 23.89 defensive rebounding percentage at Ohio State. Defensively though, Bass is better.
Coach Doc Rivers has apparently settled on a starting lineup, according to Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston. Even if he has a startling lineup planned for their season opener, Rivers also told Forsberg that he expects the starting lineup to move a around a lot. "I do think this is going to be an unusual team in that I don't think we'll have a starting lineup for most of the year," he said.
Hopefully for Celtics fans that shifting doesn't happen too much at power forward. Until Sullinger proves himself at Bass' level defensively, he shouldn't be considered a starter for this Championship chasing squad.