Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo were recently drafted in the first round by the Boston Celtics in the 2012 NBA Draft. Sullinger, a power forward out of Ohio State, was once considered to be a lock for the lottery but back injuries damaged his stock. Melo, a center out of Syracuse, is a long and lean shot blocker who should help the team’s defense over time but his offense is considered a huge question mark. The “term” raw is written all over Melo.
Will they play in their first year? Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers is certainly not known for playing rookies. Just look at his track record over the past few years: Avery Bradley, Jajuan Johnson, JR Giddens, and Gerald Green, to name a few. The only minutes these guys received were in blow out games where there contributions would not determine the team’s outcome.
Rivers instead typically uses a rookie’s first year as a “redshirt season.” He gives them the year to get into the best physical shape as possible and gives them some time to truly learn the ropes of such a rigorous game. The NBA is truly a grown man’s game and it has become apparent to Rivers that rookies need time to adjust.
Having said that, if there were ever a rookie to change Rivers plans, Sullinger seems like the best candidate. Had Sullinger declared for the draft last season, he had the potential to be the number one overall pick.
Sullinger would return to Columbus for his sophomore season to get in better shape and hopefully deliver the Buckeyes their second-ever national title in men’s basketball. It would ultimately turn out to be the wrong move as Sullinger’s stock would decline and concerns about his back would cause him to be “red-flagged” prior to the 2012 NBA Draft.
The Celtics gladly scooped him up in the draft and early reports out of the Orlando and Las Vegas summer leagues appear to be very positive. Sullinger rebounded at a high rate and was even showing off his perimeter shooting outside of the three point line.
At this point, it seems to be a strong possibility that Sullinger will get meaningful minutes this season, especially with the Celtics plan to only play Kevin Garnett roughly 30 minutes a night. He will most likely be involved in a rotation that includes Garnett, Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox, and Jason Collins. Melo, on the other hand, seems like a long term project that Doc Rivers will have to work with.
The Celtics clearly reaped the benefits of taking the best player available in this year’s draft and it looks like at this point, Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge have to be pleased with what they have seen from their rookies at this point.
Rob Lunder covers the Boston Celtics for Rant Sports. For all Celtics news, check out the Boston Celtics homepage on Rant Sports.