Archive for June, 2011

JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore are ready to contribute

Monday, June 27th, 2011

The Celtics introduced their newest players — JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore — to the media at Edison school in Brighton on Monday and if first impressions count for anything both players came across as engaging and mature. That’s to be expected of a pair of four-year college players, both of whom earned degrees at Purdue.

Education was the theme of the day as Johnson and Moore were on hand to dedicate a new mobile computer lab through the Celtics Shamrock Foundation with 25 new Mac’s for the kids in the K-8 public school. With their parents in attendance, Johnson and Moore mixed easily with the kids.

Both acknowledged that it was a strange but pleasant coincidence that they would wind up on the same team in the NBA. That process didn’t begin on draft night. It started when both players decided to return for their senior seasons after going through the draft evaluation last year.

The extra year in school wasn’t wasted as Johnson increased his scoring average from 15.5 to 20.5 points per game and was named Big 10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Moore also raised his scoring average for the fourth straight season with the Boilerrmakers and shot 40 percent from the college 3-point line.

“These guys have both improved a lot over the course of their college careers,” team president Danny Ainge said. “They’€™ve played a lot of big games in a lot of hostile environments. I think that can only help.”

The knock on Johnson is that he’s thin and he acknowledged that he wants to add to his 220 pounds in the weight room and with a nutritional program. The negative for Moore is that at 6-foot-4 (in shoes) he may be too small to matchup with NBA 2-guards and he rarely played the point at Purdue. Johnson said that he sees himself as a four-man — as do the Celtics. Moore described himself as a combo guard and said he knew he had to be prepared to handle any backcourt assignment.

The NBA is filled with undersized, or oddly sized, players and each player brings something different to the equation for the Celtics who are trying to add pieces that can help this season, as well as in the future.

“I can run the floor, rebound, defend and be able to knock down that 15-18 foot shot pretty consistently,” Johnson said. “That’€™s what I can bring to the team.”

Moore was an accomplished scorer at Purdue and had a memorable game against Ohio State when he scored 38 points and knocked down seven 3-pointers. Johnson noted that in college Moore was the player the other Boilermakers counted on to make a big shot.

Their roles are reversed now as the pressure will be on Johnson to provide some interior help and athleticism to a frontline that can use both. Moore will have a chance to earn a roster spot and he may have competition. The Celtics brought University of Pittsburgh guard Gilbert Brown in to get acclimated with the facilities.

Brown told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Ainge was in contact with him after the draft and compared his situation to Wes Matthews, an undrafted free agent out of Marquette who has already carved out a niche in the NBA, as well as a five-year $32 million contract from the Blazers. The Celtics can’t sign undrafted free agents — or free agents of any kind — until July 1 and if there is a lockout Brown told the paper he was likely to play in Germany.

On a team with so many open positions and a determination to get younger, more athletic and affordable there’s a decent chance that both Moore and Brown could find their way on to the Celtics roster. Ainge told WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan last week that he did not intend to mess with the team’s cap space after the 2012 season when they will be way below the cap, regardless of whatever system is in place in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Click here to listen to the whole interview.

That’s why this draft was so important for the Celtics. They want to remain competitive for a championship this season, while also laying the foundation for the future. Ainge told D & C that one more year with the big three was realistic, but two was probably asking too much. With Johnson, Moore, possibly Brown and last year’s first round pick Avery Bradley vying for playing time, the Celtics will have not only youth, but experienced youth to try and alter the dynamic of the team.

NOTES

Johnson will wear No. 12 as a tribute to his mother, Rhonda Curlin. That was her number in high school. Moore will wear No. 55. He said he was a fan of Jason “White Chocolate” Williams growing up.

Johnson said he was looking forward to learning from Kevin Garnett. “If he tells me something I’€™ll definitely do my best to execute what he’€™s saying,” Johnson said. “I don’€™t want him to shut me down. I want to learn as much as I can from him.”

Ainge said the team would extend a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Jeff Green before the deadline as expected.

One area Ainge wouldn’t address was any potential free agent plans. Anything and everything related to the new CBA has been off-limits in keeping with NBA policy.

All you need to know about Celtics draft picks JaJuan Johnson & E’Twaun Moore

Friday, June 24th, 2011

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 MEASURABLES

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.

THE NUMBERS

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 …

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Chris Mannix on M&M: JaJuan Johnson ‘could become a legitimate starter in this league’

Friday, June 24th, 2011

SI.com’€™s Chris Mannix spoke with Mut & Merloni Friday morning about Thursday’€™s draft and the collective bargaining agreement negotiations. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Mannix said that although he needs development, Celtics first-round draft pick JaJuan Johnson ‘€œin a few years could become a legitimate starter in this league.’€

‘€œHe is a big guy, a legitimate 6-foot-10 with that I think 7-foot-2 wingspan,’€ Mannix said. ‘€œHe’€™s a very good low-post player. ‘€¦ I think with NBA coaching he can become an even more polished offensive player.’€

Mannix also said that Johnson should develop well under the veteran leadership the Celtics have.

‘€œI think JaJuan Johnson is going to benefit enormously from playing behind Kevin Garnett for a year, and practicing against him for a year, two years,’€ Mannix said. ‘€œI think having Garnett and having Ray Allen on the roster are invaluable assets, because guys are going to be able to learn from these two guys.’€

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Transcript of Danny Ainge on D&C: Big Three still can lead Celtics to championship

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning, the day after he selected two Purdue players in the NBA draft.

The C’s first-round pick was 6-foot-10 JaJuan Johnson, and Ainge sounded cautiously optimistic that Johnson can help the Celtics immediately.

“I think he can contribute,” Ainge said. “I always hate to put too many expectations on guys before the draft and after the draft. I think that sometimes we get all excited and get carried away on the draft. Historically, there’s just not that many guys that come in on a good team, on championship-caliber teams, that are able to contribute. Well have three or four young guys on our roster this year, and one or two of them might contribute day in and day out. The others will have to find their spots through injuries and opportunities in other ways.

“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.”

Following a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Obviously, you’re happy with your guy. How long did you target this particular guy, JaJuan Johnson?

We started following JaJuan closely last year, trying to see if he should come out to the draft. He was counseled to back to school. We liked him some last year, but we did follow him closely this year.

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.

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Celtics take Purdue guard E’Twaun Moore in second round

Friday, June 24th, 2011

The Celtics had three players targeted in the first round, and they got one of them in Purdue’€™s JaJuan Johnson. The Celtics also had the No. 55 selection, but the talent pool at that point was very shallow. With a strong 2012 draft class, there was speculation that the Celtics would try to trade the pick for one next year.

Instead, they chose Purdue shooting guard E’Twaun Moore. Moore, who like Johnson played four collegiate seasons under coach Matt Painter, averaged 18 points per game on 44.7 percent shooting his senior year with the Boilermakers. Moore is much more effective driving to the rim than spotting up on the perimeter. His outside stroke is something he’ll need to improve on if he wants to hang around in the association.

Celtics president Danny Ainge did not intentionally draft two players from the same school.

“No connection,” Ainge said when asked if the picks were related. “Just independently they were the best guys on the board for us when we were drafting. I didn’€™t even realize that we were picking two kids from Purdue until Doc was on the phone with JaJuan, and he had just heard that we drafted E’Twaun, and I think that made him more excited than the fact that he was drafted. That was just pure coincidence.”

Listed at 6-foot-4, 191 pounds, Moore will have a hard time matching up against some of the bigger shooting guards in the NBA. His skill set is geared to that of a shooting guard, so a transition to the point does not seem likely.

Ainge explained that Moore can make up for his lack of size with his length and a scoring ability evidenced by his 38-point performance in a win over No. 2 Ohio State. Moore drained seven 3-pointers in the game.

“He’€™s played strictly a 2, but he can handle the ball some,” Ainge said. “He’€™s a scorer. He’€™s only 6-3 but he’€™s extremely long, has long arms, terrific scorer.”

Ainge said both players will have a chance to compete for playing time next season.

Celtics trade picks, get Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

The Celtics swung a minor deal in the first round of the NBA draft, trading back from 25 to 27 with New Jersey and picking up a 2014 second-round pick in the process. The Celtics wound up with Purdue big man JaJuan Johnson, a rangy 6-foot-10 shot-blocker who averaged over 20 points and 8 rebounds a game for the Boilermakers.

Johnson stayed all four years at Purdue and ended his career with a bevy of awards including Big Ten Player of the Year, Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and consensus All-America. The Celtics desperately need size and Johnson offers that, along with some upside offensively.

Officially the Celtics selected Providence’s Marshon Brooks with the 25th pick. The trade went through after the Nets chose at 27. A league source indicated that the Celtics would have taken Boston College product Reggie Jackson, but the Thunder took him one spot ahead of their choice at 24.

2011 NBA draft recap

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Below is a list of picks in the 2011 NBA draft. This list will be updated throughout the night as each pick is made.

No. 1 Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers selected Duke PG Kyrie Irving with the first pick of the draft. Irving played just 11 games in his only season with the Blue Devils.

No. 2 Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves selected Arizona SF/PF Derrick Williams with the second pick of the draft. Williams will join Spain’s Ricky Rubio as rookies next year in Minnesota.

No. 3 Utah Jazz: The Jazz selected Turkish PF/C Enes Kanter with the third pick of the draft. Kanter was suspended by the NCAA his only collegiate season at Kentucky.

No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers selected Texas PF Tristan Thompson with the fourth pick of the draft. Bucks scouting director Billy McKinney compared him to ‘€œa pit bull who hasn’€™t been fed in about a year and you’€™ve got pork chops in your pocket.’€

No. 5 Toronto Raptors: The Raptors selected Lithuanian C Jonas Valanciunas with the fifth pick of the draft. Valanciunas led the EuroLeague in rebounds per minute last season and has a 7-6 wingspan.

No. 6 Washington Wizards: The Wizards selected Czech SF/PF Jan Vesely with the sixth pick of the draft. Vesely has drawn comparison’s to Utah’s Andrei Kirilenko and is known as the “European Blake Griffin.

No. 7 Charlotte Bobcats (via Sacramento Kings): The Bobcats selected C Bismack Biyombo of the Congo with the seventh pick of the draft. Though many are skeptical of his age, there’s no denying his physical capabilities (6-9, 243, 7-7 wingspan, less than 5 percent body fat).

No. 8 Detroit Pistons: The Pistons selected Kentucky PG Brandon Knight with the eight pick of the draft. Knight is one of the better all-around point guards in the draft class.

No. 9 Charlotte Bobcats: The Bobcats selected Connecticut PG Kemba Walker with the ninth pick of the draft. Walker led UConn to an NCAA championship and an undefeated record in single-elimination tournament games.

No. 10 Sacramento Kings (via Milwaukee Bucks): The Kings selected Brigham Young PG Jimmer Fredette with the 10th pick of the draft. Fredette is the first senior taken and one of the best scorers in NCAA history.

No. 11 Golden State Warriors: The Warriors selected Washington State SG Klay Thompson with the 11th pick of the draft. Thompson becomes the highest-ever WSU pick. His father, Mychal Thompson, was the No. 1 pick in the 1978 draft. (more…)