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Jared Sullinger is not Glen Davis

10.08.12 at 2:44 pm ET
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Jared Sullinger.

There’s a tendency to equate rookie forward Jared Sullinger with former Celtic Glen Davis for reasons that have little to do with basketball. The similarities are essentially size-related. Like Davis, Sullinger is slightly undersized for the power forward position and like Davis, Sullinger will need to keep his weight in check. But that’s basically all there is to the comparison.

We have over the last few months a decent sample of Sullinger’s work and there is simply little to equate the two players on the court. Unlike Davis, for example, Sullinger is comfortable on the low block. He has a nice array of post moves and is far more polished than the average rookie. Indeed, Sullinger may have the best post moves of anyone on the Celtics’ roster since the halcyon days of Al Jefferson.

Sullinger also has a strong awareness on the court of where to be to receive passes from Rajon Rondo. This played out several times in their recent exhibition game against Milan when Sullinger made his debut in the starting lineup. Simply being a target under the basket, and having the hands to catch Rondo’s rocket passes, could make a huge difference for a team that struggled mightily to score points last season and had far too few chances at the basket.

Where they are similar is that both players need to come up with counters to height mismatches in the post. Davis relied on quickness, while Sullinger will use his body to ward off defenders to employ those polished moves. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts over the course of the season, but style-wise they couldn’t be more different.

That’s also true on the defensive end where Davis has made a career out of being able to guard bigger players. For all the abuse he took at the end of his tenure, it’s worth remembering that when he was at his best, Big Baby was an integral part of the Celtics’ rotations and often played out of position at center. It’s unclear if Sullinger can handle the same kind of responsibility. The rookie still has a lot to learn on the defensive end, and his learning curve will have to be steep if he plays major minutes this season.

But Sullinger offers yet another dimension that Davis lacks, and that’s the ability to get rebounds. He racked up 15 boards in the C’s two exhibition games in Europe, including eight on the offensive glass. Scoring and rebounding were two of the Celtics’ three biggest weaknesses last season — turnovers were the third — and Doc Rivers has to be pleased with what his rookie has shown thus far.

It’s still way too early of course to know what kind of a player Sullinger will end up becoming, but it’s seems reasonably clear already that what he is not is another Glen Davis.

Read More: Glen Davis, Jared Sullinger,
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