Celtics: JaJuan Johnson Doesn’t Solve Drastic Problems, But It’s a Start

The NBA Draft may have been anti-climactic on Thursday night, but the Celtics were once again good for a cliffhanger that should keep fans thinking.

After debate, the two kids Danny Ainge selected don’t look likely to disappoint. But there’s no guaranteed glory role for either, even with three aging superstars casually losing puff, and the need for a big man that could blow a hole in free agency’s head.

Really though, Thursday night was brutally predictable. Not only because Kyrie Irving was selected with the number one pick, but because, like everything the NBA touches these days, the biggest and most sought after superstars took up most of our time – and so did the rest of the globes talented youth.

But for once, the Celtics were worth the few minutes it took to select JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore.

Ainge still leaves a lot to be desired in the paint, and two rookies don’t make up for a senseless Kendrick Perkins trade.

Yet if a 6’10 Johnson can’t draw a few smiles from the Garden though, Ainge may as well clock out right now.

Johnson is everything you see. He isn’t a “What If” player, and he’s seemingly worth the tree used to produce his stats on paper. All the Celtics would like right now is another Kevin Garnett to see out the next ten years. And Ainge has good reason to believe in that wish.

Johnson’s stats in all areas have risen season by season at Purdue – let that speak volumes of six year coach Matt Painter if you will. Still, all Johnson had to do was stay an extra season at the college level than he originally planned. That extra year saw his point’s average rise to that of Tim Duncan’s 1997 season at Wake Forest. And it also saw Johnson’s rebounds per game statistics in 2011 (8.6) match that of Charles Barkley’s 1982-1983 season with Auburn.

Believing Johnson could be the next Garnett isn’t another overnight Ainge fantasy.

So if the Celtics really are interested in Allen Iverson and fail to act, allow Johnson to become ‘The Answer’ for Boston.

Coming to terms with the kid we have in front of us though, was nothing more than a fantasy for Boilermaker fans. If you can remember back to this time last year, Johnson was being recognized for what he could do with a basketball, but his maturity and on-court intellect left him in draft fairyland alongside E’Twaun Moore.

After so many college players today choose to enter the draft prematurely, Johnson is a reminder that shortcuts don’t work.

To the hundreds of other players who have jumped the gun and wound up as helpless second round picks, Johnson laughs at you. He can definitely thank scouts for that much.

It’s likely that same patience and commitment talked about is what Ainge and Doc Rivers saw when drafting Johnson, instead of the slightly weak power forward that often leans on his athleticism and height like a bookstand. Given, Johnson can block shots and guarantee solid minutes — he played over three 40 minute games in 2010 – of course, that does sound a lot like Garnett’s last 16 years right down to the possibility of continuous knee problems down the track.

It looks like the Celtics do keep coming back to one mindless factor, though: reliability. Johnson won’t come in and play Bob the Builder and set up shop for repairs on the Celtics size problem. He will, however, commit to a team, one thing no NBA rookie fresh from High School can assure a team.

Johnson also appears to fully understand that the Celtics are still very unsure on themselves. In fact, with three veteran players slowly counting down to dooms day, out of all the rookies taken in the first round, Johnson is one of few who has the potential to sit on the bench and learn for two years, before acquainting himself with Rajon Rondo.

That’s if Ainge doesn’t take dynamite to the roster and blow everything up beforehand.

Johnson should at the very least give Boston energy on the bench next season if nothing else. He can also push for some minutes, and Rivers is known for transforming effort on the court into a variety of extended minutes for players. If you have interest in betting on the Celtics next season be sure to use the Boomaker bonus code when signing up.

“Terrific shooter for his size and extremely athletic, if we can get him shots, he’ll make them” said Rivers following Thursday night.

Sounds like what Big Baby used to be able to do.

If the Celtics do play, and there is a season come October, Johnson has a learning curb ahead of him.

The Celtics finally have some future plans ahead though. And for once, it’s more than just a blueprint.

Follow Ryan Cook on Twitter.

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Hunter Thomas
As a lifetime New England sports fan, Hunter was determined in October of 2005 to finally start using that passion and determination to create the site now known as Celtics 24/7. Formerly known as Celtics Pride, Celtics 24/7 has become one of the most well-respected and followed Celtics websites. Our motto “For Fans, By Fans” rings entirely true as we’ve built and grown a community of passionate and enthusiastic Celtics fans. It all starts with you–the fans, and I appreciate every single person who supports us on our journey to the top.


  1. Anderson Adams

    June 26, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Although Johnson led Purdue in rebounding last season, that was more due to necessity than the type of player he is. With Hummel down Purdue went with a four guard lineup most of the time leaving Johnson to do the grunt work underneath. Yes, he’s a capable rebounder but I don’t think he’ll ever be a guy that averages double digits in the NBA–he’s just not that type of player. Don’t let his numbers fool you about what he is likely to become.

  2. Pingback: Boston Celtics Daily Links 6/26 | Celts Hub

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