Fratello’s Fantasy Pick

Boston Celtics v Milwaukee BucksAfter being named to the First Team All-America squad in both his freshman and sophomore years at Ohio State, Jared Sullinger entered the 2012 NBA Draft.

The Boston Celtics selected the 6’9”, 260-pound Columbus native with the 21st overall pick. GM Danny Ainge and head coach Doc Rivers were elated and felt they made a “steal” with this choice. After all, NBA scouts and talent evaluators had pegged Sullinger in the top five slots should he have jumped to the pros after his historic freshman year at OSU.

The 21-year-old big (wide) man played in all 45 Celtic contests in the 2012-2013 season before his chronic back problems forced him to the injured list. He averaged 6 ppg and 5.9 rpg in 19.8 mpg while shooting 49.5% from the field and 75% from the stripe.

Soon after, Sullinger underwent successful lumbar disk surgery. The Celtics knew going into the draft that he would eventually need this procedure. The reason his stock dipped prior to the 2012 Draft was due to teams’ concerns regarding his back.  Fortunately after the procedure surgeons and doctors concluded that his long-time, ailing back would now be fixed permanently.

So far  Sullinger has played in 18 of the Green’s 20 games. In 25.6 mpg, he is averaging 13.2 ppg (second on the team), 7.4 rpg (leads the team) and 1.4 apg. In addition, for the quants and stat-heads out there, the gregarious and relentless Sullinger leads the team with a PER of 18.6. He has posted season highs of 26 points, 17 boards and 4 dimes. Also #7 has yet to foul out of a game, which is impressive for a bulky banger.

In only his second pro season, Sullinger has become invaluable as the Celtics try to rebuild after the departures of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers. I see Sullinger as a double-double machine in the near future. Add this high IQ workhorse to your fantasy roster before his price tag shoots through the roof!

Fratello’s Fantasy Pick: Jared Sullinger

Copyright 2013 NBAE - Photo by J. Dennis/Einstein/NBAE via Getty ImagesAs the NBA fantasy season reaches its regular season midpoint, team GMs looking to shore up the depth and breadth of their rosters focus more heavily on developing their rookies.

Coach Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics has been frustrated with his underperforming, veteran roster. They are just 20-20 and have had difficulty putting away lesser opponents. In addition, the C’s are 29th in the Association in rebounding.

In order to inject some toughness and glass-cleaning ability into the Celt’s rotation, Rivers has been giving more burn to 20-year-old rookie Jared Sullinger. The 2X consensus First Team All-American at Ohio State was selected by GM Danny Ainge with the 21st overall pick in last year’s draft after declaring at the end of his sophomore season.

The 6’9”, 270-pound power forward was initially expected to be a high lottery pick, but dropped after teams discovered some back issues. In a few seasons Sullinger could wind up being regarded as the steal of the 2012 draft.

Sullinger has competed in all 40 of Boston’s games so far. While his season averages of 6.1 ppg and 6 rpg in 20 mpg are modest, he is coming on strong of late. In January, Sullinger is averaging 7.9 ppg and 8.5 rpg in 25.6 mpg over ten games. In this same stretch, he is shooting 51.5% from the field and has 3 games in double figure points and 4 games in double figure rebounds. Sullinger has season highs of 16 points (2X) and 16 boards.

Sullinger’s glaring downside is that he leads the NBA in fouls per 48 minutes, so staying on the floor can be a challenge. However, Coach Rivers has expressed confidence in his mature, rookie and that has translated into minutes when it matters. Look for this young PF’s production to increase as he becomes more accustomed to Boston’s complex defensive sets and the speed of the pro game.

Czar Star: Jared Sullinger

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