All you need to know about Celtics draft picks JaJuan Johnson & E’Twaun Moore
|06.24.11 at 1:07 pm ET|
After the initial reaction to the Celtics‘ first-round selection of Purdue senior power forward JaJuan Johnson with the No. 27 pick and the second-round selection of Purdue shooting guard E’Twaun Moore with the No. 55 pick — getting all the “Moore Johnson” and “Danny Ainge ordered a couple Boilermakers” jokes out of the way – it’s time to analyze what exactly each of these guys can provide. Here’s pretty much all you need to know about them.
The pre-draft measurements for the Celtics’ two picks (each player’s ranking at his particular position in parentheses) …
JaJuan Johnson (PF) and E’Twaun Moore (SG)
6-foot-10 (2nd) … Height … 6-foot-4 (15th)
220 lbs. (28th) … Weight … 191 lbs. (28th)
7-foot-2 (11th) … Wingspan … 6-foot-9.5 (10th)
8-foot-11.5 (6th) … Standing Reach … 8-foot-3.5 (20th)
7.5% (13th) … Body Fat … 7.6% (8th)
33.5″ (3rd) … Standing Vertical … 32.0″ (7th)
38.0″ (3rd) … Max Vertical … 34.5″ (13th)
15 reps (5th) … Bench (185 lbs.) … n/a
11.21 (19th) … Lane Agility … 11.12 (17th)
3.14 (33rd) … 3/4 Court Sprint … 3.31 (19th)
What can you take away from these numbers? Obviously, Johnson’s got great leaping ability to match his height. He’s strong, but he’s also skinny and ranks 13th among incoming power forwards with his 7.5 percent body fat. While those issues can be improved with relative ease, his speed and quickness probably won’t.
As for Moore, he ranks in the middle or bottom among incoming shooting guards in most of these measurables, but his wingspan and leaping ability might make up for some of his lack of height.
Where the Celtics were picking — at No. 27 and No. 55 — they weren’t going to land the athletic freaks with off-the-charts measurables. Instead, they targeted guys whose four years of college experience and production translated into a school-record 107 victories.
So, let’s break down their per-game statistics as seniors for a Boilermakers team that finished 26-8 and lost to VCU in the third round of the NCAA Tournament …
JaJuan Johnson (PF) and E’Twaun Moore (SG)
20.5 … Points … 18.0
8.6 … Rebounds … 5.1
1.0 … Assists … 3.2
2.3 … Blocks … 0.5
0.9 … Steals … 1.2
1.6 … Turnovers … 1.8
1.6 … Personal Fouls … 2.1
49.4 … FG% … 44.7
80.9 … FT% … 70.9
29.4 … 3P% … 40.0
Both guys can score. That much is certain, although neither scored all that efficiently for their respective positions (Johnson’s free-throw shooting for a near 7-footer is certainly a plus). Both guys can rebound. Moore’s 5.1 boards per game as a 2-guard is particularly encouraging. Johnson is a proven shot-blocker, and Moore’s assist numbers are decent. Considering they played on the same team, it’s tough to tell how much each helped or hurt the other’s statistics.
While we should always be skeptical of NBA player comparisons (see: Miner, Harold), ESPN.com Chad Ford’s as tuned into these draft prospects as anybody and doesn’t tend to go overboard, at least since he compared Darko Milicic to a young Wilt Chamberlain. Here’s his take …
Chad Ford on JaJuan Johnson: “Johnson has been a bit of an enigma for me the past two years. He’s always been long and is very athletic. He’s got the size and leaping ability of a NBA player, but lacked the strength to play in the post at the next level. He’s coming off a great senior season and over the past two years he developed a very solid perimeter game and even started shooting 3s this year.
“That may ultimately be a critical transition for him. While Johnson continues to add muscle, he’s a bit slight for the 4 position. However, as he continued to show in Chicago this week, he gets great elevation on his jump shot and was showing the ability to get his shot off against anyone. He could be a Hakim Warrick type player at the next level.”
Chad Ford on E’Twaun Moore: “Moore may not look much like an NBA prospect at first glance. He’s an undersized combo guard without the athleticism or quickness that NBA scouts covet. But his performance for Purdue this season has forced scouts to take a second look. His perimeter shooting, his toughness on both ends of the floor and his ability to swing over and play some point guard have them rethinking his draft potential.
“Moore is coming off the best game of his career Sunday — a 38-point outing against Ohio State in which he was 7-for-10 from beyond the arc. Moore has had a number of other big games in the Big Ten. When his shot is falling, he’s very difficult to stop. His ceiling is somewhat limited according to scouts and, most likely, he’s a second-round pick. But with scouts whiffing on guys like Wesley Matthews and Gary Neal in the past, they are keeping a closer on eye on prospects like Moore.”
If you’re telling me the Celtics just got Hakim Warrick and Wesley Matthews with picks No. 27 and 55, I’m on board. I’d argue Johnson’s a lot closer to Warrick than Moore is to Matthews. Obviously, time will tell.
Here’s what people are saying about the Celtics first-round pick …
JaJuan Johnson: “I’m definitely eager to get started. I’m so happy to have the opportunity to play some basketball again. I definitely understand that this is my opportunity of a lifetime. I’m so glad I’m going to be able to do this.
“I love that I’m going to Boston. It’s great to be able to learn from all their veteran guys. You have so many NBA All-Stars on that team. Just to be able to play with a great point guard like Rajon Rondo and all those guys truly is a blessing.”
Celtics president Danny Ainge: “I think the only minus, really, is just he’s very thin. But he’s multi-skilled. He can shoot, handle the ball, pass, block shots, rebound. He just needs to put a little weight on.
“I think he can contribute. … Size is hard to find. I think that his size gives him a little bit of an advantage. And his experience in college — he was an All-Big Ten player, and he’s nearly 6-foot-10 and he’s long. There’s just not that many of those guys out there, so the competition is much thinner.”
Purdue head coach Matt Painter: “Are you scoring college points in college or are you scoring NBA points in college? I think JaJuan is one of those guys who scores NBA baskets. He has a fade-away he can hit out to 17 feet. He can catch and shoot to 20 feet. He makes his free throws. Even though he has an unorthodox jump hook, it’s very efficient. He’s always been able to make a pull-up. His ability to score is high for big guys in this draft. There’s something to be said for a 6-10 guy who can knock down perimeter shots and score in a variety of ways.
“He’s been injury-free. That raised a lot of eyebrows of a lot of NBA teams. He did a good job at Purdue working on his body and strength. Now he has to do a great job. I think he can get to 240 or 250. That might sound crazy, but ‘¦ between age 22 and 26, he can make a huge jump.”
And here’s what people are saying about the Celtics second-round pick …
E’Twaun Moore: “I want to show teams that I played hard and I want to play defense first. I think that’s something any team could use. That’s one of the first impressions I want to leave.”
Danny Ainge: “We really like E’Twaun. He’s just a good all-around player. Both these kids, from Purdue, four-year guys, great careers, and just solid players, both-ends-of-the-court players. They do a little bit of everything. They’re well-schooled players, and ready to go.”
Matt Painter: “E’Twaun has really improved in other areas outside of scoring. He can score in a variety of ways but I think his decision making is better and his defense is better this year. From the feedback I’ve gotten from his workouts, people have been very impressed with his ability to handle the basketball and his ability to defend. …
“He was somebody we did a lot of point-guard-type stuff with while he was here. We needed him to score the ball more so we played him off the ball more. When we recruited him, we told him he was going to have the ball in his hands whether he brought the ball up the court or not. As he progressed in his career, he always brought the ball up, especially when he got the rebound and on the break. He’s never going to be a pass-first guy. He’s a lead guard who’ll be looking for his shot and looking to create for others at the same time. …
“I think E’Twaun’s a good all-around player. He can play either spot. He can guard either spot. He can make big shots. I look at a guy like Jason Terry, who probably has more quickness than E’Twaun does. He doesn’t have great size but does have a high release point that just flat-out gets things done, proving he’s one of the best players in the world. …
“E’Twaun’s always had some knocks but he’s always been a guy who’s been able to go out there and produce. Once again, he’s on proving grounds going into the NBA. No matter what happens, where he gets drafted, who picks him up, whether they keep him or don’t keep him, if he’s in the rotation, if he’s not in the rotation, he’s just gonna keep coming. I believe in him as a player. We always put the ball in his hands and more times than not, he produced.”
Pretty great stuff from Painter. Obviously, he’s biased, but there are some great insights there.
Often times, an incoming player’s off-the-court battles and triumphs can influence his success just as much as his on-court production. Here’s a tidbit from an ESPNW feature on Johnson and the influence his single mother had on him:
“My mother started college but got pregnant with me at age 21 and was forced to drop out,” Johnson said.
His biological father wasn’t around much, so [Rhonda] Curlin, who married Chris Curlin when Johnson was 8, raised her son as a single mom. Johnson concedes she was “tough” on him as she toiled at service jobs ranging from bus driver to cafeteria worker to provide for his needs.
And this feature from the Northwest Indiana Times gives us a great look into Moore’s background as he steered clear of gang life while growing up in East Chicago, Ind. Here’s an appetizer before diving into the main course:
“I still live in one of the worst places in Indiana, on Guthrie, but with all the people doing crazy stuff, I was fine,” Moore said of a neighborhood where gunshots and police sirens are common at night.
The 2009 stabbing death of [best friend and East Central High teammate] Donte Brown at the Harborside Apartments in the 3400 block of Guthrie Street left Moore questioning life in general.
“That was pretty tough. He was my best friend and growing up, we were always with each other all the time,” Moore said. “If you’re not guided the right way, all you see is the negative and you think that’s the right thing to do.
“Hopefully, you have someone to help you or you can say on your own: ‘I want better.’”
Johnson and Moore obviously had somebody to whisper that into their ears, as it doesn’t get much better than getting drafted along with a four-year college teammate to the NBA’s most storied franchise.