No matter what the sport – basketball, baseball, football – that sentiment is repeated over and over again. And for good reason, it’s much safer to catch a fly ball or grounder with two hands; likewise it’s easier to snatch a pass in football with two hands. The same reasoning applies to basketball, especially with rebounding. Going up to grab a rebound with two hands makes it easier to secure the ball.
Yet despite the idea being a good rule to follow, Jared Sullinger has thrived by boxing out and rebounding with just one hand.
Sullinger, who was recently named to the Rising Stars challenge at All-Star Weekend, is averaging 7.6 rebounds a night in his second year – good enough for 32nd in the league. Sullinger, however, plays just above 26 minutes a night. The only player ahead of him in rebound average that plays fewer minutes than him? Kenneth Faried, who is 31st in the league, grabbing 7.8 boards a night. Taking this into account, it makes sense to look at his per 36-minute numbers, which show Sullinger averaging 10.6 rebounds a night.
Furthermore, at 6 foot 9, Sullinger is undersized when it comes to big men in the NBA. Adding to the challenge he faces is his lack of athleticism and jumping ability. In a low post world dominated by leapers and taller men, Sullinger has managed to carve out a place. Much like Zach Randolph of the Grizzlies, Sullinger has done so by working around his lack of natural gifts.
One way in which Sullinger has found a way to prosper in rebounding battles down low has been using one hand to grab rebounds. It seems counterintuitive, but Sullinger has become rather adept at using one hand to help box out his man and one hand to pull down the rebound.
The other night against the Philadelphia 76ers, Sullinger had one of his best games of the year, scoring 24 points and corralling 17 rebounds – a number of which he hauled in using his one hand technique. Let’s go to the tape below to see how Sullinger operates.
As you can see, Sullinger gets inside position and then proceeds to use one hand to hold off his man and one hand to secure the ball. It’s an interesting technique that surely wouldn’t be taught at any basketball clinics, but it works for Sullinger. He may not have speed or leaping ability, but Sullinger certainly has strength, and he uses it to his advantage whenever possible.
So, if you find yourself stuck watching a Celtics game for some reason at some point this year: first of all, I’m sorry, but secondly, pay attention to Sullinger now that we’ve solved Da Mystery of Chessboxin-out With One Hand.