Does Jared Sullinger Make Raptors Title Contenders?
Jared Sullinger was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 2012 to be a key piece of their rebuilding process. At least initially he was, carving out a solid role in just his second season, one that equated to 13 points and eight rebounds per game.
Sully Heads to Canada
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) July 14, 2016
After falling out of favor during the 2015-16 NBA season and seeing his lowest amount of minutes since his rookie season, however, the man known as “Sully” seemed to see the writing on the wall.
Boston opted to rescind their offer on the restricted free agent this summer, leaving the door open to Sullinger to decide his future. He ended up ultimately joining the Toronto Raptors, who on the surface looked like a legit threat to make it to the NBA Finals.
Now they just might have a complete arsenal to take their game up a notch.
Time in Boston
Sullinger’s time in Boston may be best remembered as disappointing, as he flashed immense potential and was “off and on” a solid contributor for a rebuilding franchise that slowly morphed back into a playoff contender.
Thanks to weight control problems, however, Sullinger’s playing time dipped in Boston. He fell out of favor in the rotation, couldn’t hold onto a starting gig and ended up losing time to the likes of Tyler Zeller, Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson and even Jonas Jerebko.
Reports suggest he’s learned his lesson from what appears to be a “wakeup call” and that he could be ready to show the player he truly is now that he’s headed to Canada.
Sullinger was a stud at Ohio State in college, exhibiting a strong body, good rebounding, toughness and a nice scoring touch around the basket.
In the pros he quickly stretches his shot out to the NBA three, where he still hasn’t turned into an elite outside shooter, but has still been able to convert at least 26% of his attempts in each of the last three seasons.
Sullinger still has the upside of a big, bruising inside/outside player, as he has a solid face-up game and can work down low. He can rebound and at least physically, has the body to defend other talented bigs.
It’s his potential that got him drafted and it’s the reason the Celtics held on for three years as his bouts with keeping his weight in check went back and forth.
That’s precisely the reason the Raptors took a chance on him this summer, and why he could be the missing link between them and a run at an otherwise unlikely title.
Raptors’ Title Odds
Toronto executives are already suggesting Sullinger will start at the power forward spot, which at least on paper gives the Raptors a solid presence in the paint on both sides of the floor, as well as a guy who can space the floor as an outside threat.
That same potential that kept Sullinger in Boston’s rotation during his first four years is likely hinged to him getting in the best shape of his life, but on paper this is a beautiful signing for a Toronto team that just took the Cavaliers to six games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Raptors already made the right moves by not overpaying Bismack Biyombo, by retaining DeMar DeRozan and also bringing in a stretch four who just might push them over the hump.
Toronto went on a magical run to their first ever Eastern Conference Finals last year, and there’s still no guarantee Sully or anyone else makes next year more successful. That being said, Vegas gives Toronto decent +4000 odds to win the 2016-17 NBA Finals.
That puts Toronto with the sixth best odds even before the news broke of their Jared Sullinger signing. Sullinger alone won’t get the job done, but he fills a key need for Toronto and offers more size and balance to their offense.
If Sullinger can finally keep his weight under control and be a more consistent shooter from outside, the Raptors could benefit greatly.
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