Jared Sullinger received a lot of attention for his fantastic 19 point fourth quarter on Wednesday night. He went 4 for 6 on three pointers, got the team back into the game and unfortunately (or fortunately) the Toronto Raptors hit a few big three pointers of their own to hold off a late charge from Sullinger and co.
While the season has been a long one, full of loses and disappointments, it seems completely ridiculous to start anointing Jared Sullinger a good or threatening three point shooter. This happened with Rajon Rondo earlier this month, too.
Yes, Sullinger made four three pointers last night. Yes, after the game he said, "If I'm open. I'll shoot it." Yes, he can say that after the fourth quarter he had. Sometimes, the reason a player is open is because the opponent wants him to shoot.
Should Sullinger have had the green light last night? Sure, it's the end of the season and he was on fire. Part of this season is process getting better for the long run. Sullinger said he was trying to expand his game and he "doesn't care what the naysayers say."
However, in his six previous games Sullinger had made a total of four three-pointers. He took 18 attempts in those games. That's 22%, a little bit below his season average of 25.6%.
Shooting three-pointers is something that Sullinger should be working on. He can draw some opponents away from the rim. However, it also takes him away from the rim.
It can become an addiction. It's comfortable out on the perimeter. No banging around with bigger guys. No battling for rebounds. it's an enticing existence.
Antoine Walker fell victim to the lure of the perimeter. He was a very solid low-post player. His big posterior helped him carve out space (he avergaed 8.7 rebounds per game in eight season with Boston) and his great feet were conducive to a life in the low-post. Walker's three-point attempts sky-rocketed over the first six years of his career. He averaged 228 three pointers in his first four seasons. Then the flood-gates opened. The next three years Walker took 603, 645, and 582 three point attempts. Let that wash over you for a moment.
Walker was a bigger part of the offense starting in his rookie year than Sullinger was. Walker played 35+ minutes every season in Boston.
Sullinger's rookie year he only took five three pointers. That's less than he took on Wednesday night in Toronto. However, his mentality that he will shoot if he's open could be dangerous, especially if he continues to shoot 25% from behind the arc. This season Sullinger has taken 176 three points. He is taking 2.7 three pointers a game, meaning he should end up with about 200 attempts for the season. By contrast, Antoine Walker took 292 three pointers in his second season.
Here is the scary part. Sullinger is playing 12 less minutes a game than Walker. He plays 27.2 minutes a game. In Walker's second season he played 39.9. Jared Sullinger is taking more three point attempts per minute on the floor than Antoine Walker did in his second season. Sulllinger is shooting one three pointer every 10 minutes. Walker shot a three pointer every 11.1 minutes on the court during his sophomore season.
Obviously, as Walker's career progressed he shot more and more three pointers, which almost became a joke in Boston. For a power forward to take a three pointer every 5.5 minutes is pretty insane, especially considering the 33.3%. clip he shot from downtown in eight season with the Celtics.
Sullinger has a long way to go before he starts chucking up as many threes as Walker did in the peak of his addiction. Here's hoping Sullinger hones the craft, learns to be selective, and avoids any sort of celebration that involves a shimmy.
Tags: Antoine Walker, Basketball, Boston, Boston Celtics, Jared Sullinger, NBA, Rajon Rondo