David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
It's Green's time to shine.
The departures of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce left the Celtics in shock. But more importantly, it left two gaping holes in the team’s starting lineup.
They are holes that will likely be filled by Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger.
Greener on the Other Side
For Green, it’s a story of two halves.
From the get go, the 26-year-old struggled to make an impact with the team. He looked hesitant with the ball and constantly made bad decisions. Green’s play in January pretty much summed it all up—9.3 points over 23.9 minutes per game during 15 contests.
However, something must have woken him up along the way.
Over Boston’s final 16 regular-season games, Green averaged 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks over 35.1 minutes per night. He also shot 50.9 percent from the field and 51 percent from beyond the arc. The stretch also includes performances of 43 and 34 points.
The hot streak continued into the postseason.
During the Celtics’ six contests against the New York Knicks, Green averaged 20.3 points and 5.3 rebounds over 43.2 minutes per game. He also shot 43.5 percent from the floor and 45.5 percent from three-point range.
If anything, Green has certainly proven he is worthy of a starring role in Boston’s offense.
Experience Beyond his Years
In just one season, Sullinger has grown tremendously as a player.
His overall stat line shows a 21-year-old rookie who put together a decent first season in the NBA—6.1 points and 5.9 rebounds over 19.8 minutes per game. However, a deeper look shows a player who is ready to step up as a leader for one of the most storied franchises in the league.
Nine times this season Sullinger logged a total of 25 minutes or more. In those games, he averaged 12 points and 10.3 rebounds while shooting 59.5 percent from the field.
On defense, Sullinger was even better.
According to Synergy Sports Data, via ESPN Boston’s Chris Forsberg, the former-Ohio State standout allowed just 0.708 points per play. He ranked third among all players with at least 300 possessions.
Not to mention, Boston finished plus-42 with Sullinger on the court compared to minus-60 when he was off it.
Just goes to show, although he is young, Sullinger has a significant influence on the team’s success. Look for that to grow next season.