Jared Sullinger starred with 24 points and 17 rebounds in the Boston Celtics’ last-second loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, but he had been in a mini-slump as of late.
Sullinger, who was selected for the Rising Stars Challenge earlier on Wednesday, had a combined 16 points and 12 rebounds in the three games before Wednesday night. He is averaging 12.5 points and 7.6 boards per game in his second NBA season. Sullinger is shooting just 37.4 percent from the field in January after hitting 48.7 percent of his attempts in November and 42.9 percent in December. He has been dealing with hand and wrist injuries as of late.
Brad Stevens felt the need to sit down with Sullinger this week to discuss the struggles, while also asking him to take on a bigger role with the rebuilding club.
"First of all, I did say ‘Hey, I realize you are playing through the hand and the finger.’ He’s a tough guy, who wants to play and likes to play. I value that and think highly of him for that," Stevens said.
"One of the things that I just challenged him on was not having to accept being a 22-year-old in the league. We are in a unique situation in that we are asking some of our young guys to be leaders and more vocal in their approach. My talking point with him was, we know you are 22 but you are a mature basketball player and you know the game. For our team to grow we need you to play and be a few years ahead of where you are. It’s not fair to him, but it’s a great opportunity for him.”