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Celtics, for the last time: Jared Sullinger

One of the most unpredictable Celtics seasons [1] in recent memory begins Wednesday, and in order to determine the likelihood of each player reaching his full potential, we’ll be examining them individually in this year’s Green Street preview with one form of this question in mind: “When’s the last time ‘€¦ ?” Next up: Jared Sullinger.

When’s the last time a sophomore stud enjoyed success post-injury?

In the past 25 years, only two bigs underwent season-ending surgery as a rookie and ultimately became a star.

The most recent is Blake Griffin [2], whose broken left kneecap was discovered on the eve of his rookie season. He missed that entire year, and then unleashed himself on the NBA in 2010-11, averaging 22.5 points, 12.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists to earn his first of three All-Star invitations. But he was a No. 1 overall pick.

The other is LaMarcus Aldridge, whose heart ailment cut his 2006-07 rookie year short in April. He responded the next season with averages of 17.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He’s now a two-time All-Star.

Kenyon Martin [3] suffered a broken leg as a college senior, and then finished second in the 2001 NBA Rookie of the year voting. Otherwise, no big man who battled injuries that early in his career ever flourished in the NBA. In fact, on the flip side, there’s guys like Greg Oden [4], whose chronic knee problems are well documented.

Doctors have assured Sullinger he’ll fully recover, and the production of both Griffin and Aldridge suggest it’s not only possible to recover in time for your sophomore campaign, but you can potentially flourish, too.

But Sullinger is entering uncharted territory, especially considering his surgery involved back issues. Then again, the Celtics [5] understood that when he dropped to them at No. 21 in last year’s draft.

Click on the links below to check out the “When’s the last time ‘€¦ ?” questions for other Celtics.

Kelly Olynyk: When’€™s the last time a middle-of-the-pack draft pick won NBA Rookie of the Year honors? [6]
Gerald Wallace [7]: When’€™s the last time a declining over-30 former All-Star enjoyed a career resurgence? [8]
Avery Bradley [9]: When’€™s the last time a player emerged as a defensive standout, then made offensive leap? [10]
Vitor Faverani: When’€™s the last time an undrafted foreign-born rookie took the NBA world by storm? [11]
Brandon Bass [12]: When’€™s the last time a frontcourt mate emerged in the wake of a blockbuster trade? [13]
Phil Pressey: When’€™s the last time an undrafted rookie point guard set the NBA world on fire? [14]
Kris Humphries: When’€™s the last time an offseason expiring contract acquisition was dealt midseason? [15]
Jeff Green [16]: When’€™s the last time a 27-year-old NBA veteran made the All-Star leap? [17]
Jordan Crawford: When’€™s the last time an immature young guard saw the NBA light? [18]