Early reports have indicated that JaJuan Johnson may start for the Celtics tonight due to injuries in the frontcourt. Up until now Johnson was most famous for losing to VCU in the Round of 32 and for people thinking his name was spelled JuJuan. Tonight, with Garnett and Bass both potentially shelved, he has a chance to raise his profile a bit. Here are a few things to expect tonight from Johnson.
Spotting Up Every Possession
Johnson takes more shots from 16-23 feet than anywhere else on the floor. He doesn’t have much of a post game (even though he’s legitimately 6’10”) because he looks like Jack Skellington, so he gets his points around the perimeter. This is okay because a) he’ll slot in nicely on offense for KG, who takes an even higher percentage of his shots from that area than Johnson does, and b) the Detroit frontcourt isn’t going to pay much attention to him on the perimeter. Jason Maxiell is a total rebound hound, and he’s probably too short to even interfere with Johnson’s crazy-high release point on his jumper. Look for Johnson to set up a small campsite around the arc tonight.
Potentially Getting Broken in Half by Jason Maxiell and Greg Monroe
Detroit has one of the stronger frontcourts in basketball: Maxiell is four inches shorter than Johnson, but also significantly stronger and more homicidal. Greg Monroe also put on some weight this season and probably should have made the All-Star team because of it. They’re large.
Meanwhile, JaJuan’s center of gravity is basically in his forehead. He gets pushed off the block like a Tonka truck. He’s going to have a lot of trouble getting points at the basket without sacrificing his life. On defense, he’d almost certainly be better off guarding Tayshaun Prince: Johnson is faster and probably Tayshaun’s equal in per-minute boniness. Instead, Maxiell and Monroe are probably going to score a lot and eat 20 boards between them tonight, possibly also Johnson by accident.
Fast-Breaking to Victory
Johnson is very fast for his size, and he can jump super high (much higher than KG). He had the highest touch height at last year’s combine. There’s no reason he and Rondo shouldn’t collaborate on a few fast-break projects tonight. Ryan’s written a lot on how much more efficiently the C’s offense runs in transition, but the transition game is especially well-suited for Johnson’s abilities. Run it out, Boston! Establish Massachusetts as a Lob Commonwealth! Gandalf has a message for Rondo and JaJuan:
PREDICTION: 14 points on 6-11 shooting, 6 boards