After trading the 25th pick in the NBA Draft, the Celtics used New Jersey’s 27th selection to select Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson.
The 6’10, 220-pound glass of water can run the floor, jump, and possesses a wingspan that would bring a smile to Jay Bilas’s face. During his senior year at Purdue, Johnson extended his jump shot range and became the Big Ten’s Player of the Year. He used a diverse offensive game and explosive athleticism to score more than 20 points per game as a senior, and defended well enough to be named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year. Also, he’s tall.
Johnson could use a few dozen steaks to thicken his wispy frame, which could probably get knocked over by a stationary toothpick. Due to Johnson’s lack of strength, there are questions about whether his defensive ability can translate to the NBA. Some thin players can defend against much stronger players in the post (think Marcus Camby), but others are overpowered far too easily (think Chris Johnson, who played about ten minutes for the Celtics this season). JaJuan could still go either way, but he earned a soft reputation at Purdue.
“His main issue defensively is defending the post,” wrote Draft Express. “He does a good job of using his length to contest shots, but his lack of lower body strength really manifests itself in this aspect of his game, as he struggles to deny post position, and is easily backed down, allowing high percentage shots. Furthermore, he seems to lack a degree of toughness and aggressiveness here, as its not rare to see players pushing him around, and he doesn’t always respond the way you would hope.”
Also, he’s a poor rebounder for his height. In Boston, I guess he’ll fit right in.
The Celtics could have done a lot worse with their first-round selection. They needed size, and they got it. Not only that, but they got a tall athlete with a decently polished offensive game, one who enters the NBA after a celebrated college career. Yes, he’s a little soft, and yes, he needs to change his attitude toward rebounding. But he’s tall and he’s talented (STAT © Amare), and he should help instantly. Considering that the Celtics were drafting late in the first round of a weak draft, I can’t complain.
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