Jared Sullinger isn’t a player you would dream up in a lab, but he’s definitely an upgrade over Luis Scola.
Scola could not guard anyone this past season for the Toronto Raptors and it became a serious problem in the playoffs. And when the Raptors tried to swap out Luis Scola for Patrick Patterson in the starting lineup it didn’t work because Patterson wasn’t used to playing in the first unit.
In 24 mpg this past season for the Boston Celtics Jared Sullinger averaged 10.3ppg (on 43.5% shooting from the field), 8.3rpg, 0.6bpg, 0.9spg & 2.3apg. If he can forget about long 2s and stay in shape he could become a very good player.
Jared Sullinger may not be the long-term solution for the Raptors at power forward, given his one-year contract, but he’s the short-term band-aid the Raptors desperately needed.
Will Sullinger start?
The Raptors have come out and said he will. I don’t know if I’m sold on that in August because last season, this time, Patrick Patterson was expected to be the starter. However, after Luis Scola had a good training camp and shined in pre-season that narrative quickly got erased. How many minutes will Sullinger get this season? It’s a bit of a question mark, but I would expect a full timeshare at power forward with Patrick Patterson.
Furthermore, he should get some backup centre minutes as the Raptors plan to work in Jakob Poeltl slowly. Post all-star break I expect Poeltl to be the primary backup centre as he is an extremely talented mobile defender.
What is the long-term plan at power forward?
With Sullinger and Patterson entering free agency next summer it’s hard to imagine they will both return. Do the Raptors end up paying the one that has the better season? Do they make a splash at the trade deadline and try to get a star power forward? It has been reported that the Raptors have inquired about Paul Millsap, Serge Ibaka, and tried to sign Pau Gasol. So if they end up getting a player of that caliber do they let Sullinger and Patterson both walk next summer?
Sullinger won’t get as many touches with the Raptors as he did with the Celtics. Kyle Lowry & DeMar DeRozan are two all-star offensive talents, something that the Celtics don’t have. Yes, the Celtics have Isaiah Thomas, but nobody else that demanded touches. Plus, Dwane Casey should look to give Jonas Valanciunas more touches after being the Raptors most consistent option in the playoffs prior to getting injured.
Sullinger is definitely a good fit for the Raptors, but it’s hard to expect him to be the guy that puts the Raptors in the position to beat the Cavs come playoff time.
Statistical prediction: 26mpg, 9.8ppg (on 46% shooting from the field), 9rpg, 0.7bpg, 1spg, & 2.3apg