It may be far-fetched, but Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert told reporters that if Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger keeps working he could be the Kevin Love of the Eastern Conference. Is Hibbert right? Does Sullinger have the rights tools to emerge into a Kevin Love type of player? Considering the numbers and skill set, it is extremely plausible.
Kevin Love is one of the best players in the league right now. He is a tenacious rebounder who’s proficient in the post and possesses an efficient shooting stroke from deep. This season, Love is averaging 25.9 points, 13.9 rebounds, and shooting about 38 percent from three-point range. He’s put together a monster, MVP season and he’s only 25 years old. When he’s healthy he’s a rebounding machine and can score in a variety of ways. He has gradually become a dominant big man in the league. However, in his sophomore year in the NBA Love averaged 14 points, 11 rebounds, and shot 33 percent from deep.
Sullinger has a very similar skill set to Kevin Love. He rebounds, has the ability score efficiently in the post, and is developing a reliable outside shot. Sullinger, like Love, has trouble staying healthy with lingering back problems. Nonetheless, he has flashed his potential this season into what he could be someday. Consider this: Sullinger has averaged 14.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, has shot 31 percent from three, and those numbers will only get better from here. The numbers are surprisingly similar to Love’s. Sullinger has the clear disadvantage as a rebounder, mostly due to his size. However, Sullinger’s scoring numbers may surpass Love’s sophomore averages. Excluding the game against the Pacers in which he only played 16 minutes, Sullinger has averaged 18.5 points in the last seven games. He could very well continue to put up scoring numbers like that and have a strong scoring average at the end of the season.
Jared Sullinger has shown early indications of becoming a player like Kevin Love. There is no telling whether Sullinger will be as good as Love is, but his skill set and work ethic reveal that he could be close. He’s still very young and has plenty of time to develop. For the Celtics’ sake, let’s hope he can become a dominant forward like Love. However, there is a long road ahead.