Chad Ford of ESPN.com: When you’re drafting as low as the Celtics are in a weak draft, you temper expectations. But I think they may have found two players who can help.
Johnson was underrated all season, mostly because he was a senior. He’s long, athletic and skilled, and he has improved every year.
Moore is a consummate role player. He isn’t great at anything but his overall game is solid. Both players could help the Celtics down the road. Grade: A-
Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie: Grade: A
For the last few years, I’ve lived in Lafayette, Ind., which is just an eight-minute drive from West Lafayette, Ind., where Purdue is located. Both of these players are from Purdue, and I should either be terribly biased in their favor, or reacting negatively and inappropriately based solely on the punk Purdue hipsters who dodge in front of my car every time I cross over the Wabash River to buy used LPs in West Lafayette.
The truth is that I don’t care about Purdue, I watch as much Purdue basketball as I do Duke or College of Charleston basketball (that is to say, no basketball), and my location has no impact on this rating.
With that in place, I think Johnson can be a terrific player in the right system, so much so that he was my favorite target for my hometown Chicago Bulls as they picked late in Round 1. And Moore, though his game is full of holes and he is a wing-trapped in a point guard’s body, could be a rotation-level talent. Even knowing Johnson’s rebounding issues and understanding his small frame, Boston could turn him into a contributor that lasts for years. Not bad, for the end of the first and second rounds. Boilermaker-hoy!
Sam Amick of SI.com: The only time there’s a downside of success is on draft day, when it’s so much tougher for elite teams to find a way to grab players who could actually help. But Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson (No. 27 via New Jersey) might actually be able to do that, and the experience that comes with being a four-year player whose game was on the rise every year comes in handy.
As for Johnson’s college teammate E’Twaun Moore (No. 55), he has a track record of winning (a state title in high school, two Sweet 16 appearances with the Boilermakers) that will — if nothing else — mesh with the Celtics’ culture. If he can beat the odds and actually contribute one day, that’s all the better. Grade: A
The Fort Wayne Sentinel newspaper (h/t: WEEI) caught up with Purdue head coach Matt Painter for his thoughts on JaJuan’s transition and potential while moving on to the pros:
“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.”
Here’s Painter again on Moore:
“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.”
Danny Ainge also had some interesting comments on both guys, as well as the C’s free agency future plans yesterday on the Dennis and Callahan Program on WEEI. A few key tidbits from that must-read interview:
On Johnson contributing right away:
I think he can contribute. 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. Absolutely. I think that’s a fallacy, too. Guys that are 22 years old still get a lot better over the next five or six years. With his attitude, character, work ethic, I think that he will get better.
Do you have a master plan in place for the next five years?
The challenge this summer is going to be to try to win a championship and to not jeopardize that cap space that we have for the following year. That’s going to be a real challenge for us. If there is some opportunity to do a good deal that might jeopardize our opportunity to “start fresh,” for lack of a better term, I think that that’s going to be the biggest challenge, that we maintain our patience and stick with the plan through that process.
Isn’t that how it happens with a lot of teams, they see that down the road that they can get under the cap, and then they get tempted, they see a veteran with a big contract?
I think that does happen.
Could it happen to you?
Not going to happen.
I shouldn’t say it’s not going to happen, it depends on who that player is, but our objective is to not have that happen.
Interesting words from Ainge on the cap situation going forward. It should affect their planning on signing guys like Glen Davis, Delonte West, and Jeff Green who undoubtedly will want longer term deals this offseason. There’s no way Boston contends next season without locking that trio, along with some additional positional help. Will Ainge be able to toe the line between now and the future? Judging by the tone of this piece, the future looks to be taking the ultimate priority.