The Boston Celtics drafted a rookie guard in one Avery Bradley in the 2010 NBA draft. Although Bradley was definitely a raw talent, he showed some flashes of being a guy that could be a top of the rotation player in the NBA. Doc Rivers was trying to win games and thus Bradley was buried on the Celtics bench during his rookie year for a good part of it.
However, Bradley did not just rot on the bench. He picked Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen’s brain. He worked hard in practice and listened to his coaches. He was told to improve in certain areas and he worked on his jump shot. He learned to read defenses better in order to get to the basket for easy scores both with and without the ball. He learned when to be aggressive and when not to be aggressive on the defensive end of the floor. Bradley would work hard and polish his game to the point that he pushed a future hall of famer out of his starting job.
One year later future second year man JaJuan Johnson is poised to follow the same path. Johnson had a few solidgames and showed some raw talent with an athletic game, but the Celtics were trying to win now and that meant the rookie was relegated to the bench for most of the year. However, much like Bradley did, Johnson has made good use of his time.
Johnson formed a strong bond with a guy that could help his growth immensely in one Kevin Garnett. The two would bang in practice a lot and KG was always there teaching his younger counterpart valuable lessons.The fact is Johnson picked the brain of Garnett for advise on everything as he even sat across from KG on the flights to other cities. He would question about NBA defenses and what low post moves work. He would learn the ins and outs of the Celtics defense from the man that is the anchor of it. These lessons from KG were huge for Johnson’s growth as a player.
Johnson was given work from the coaches to get better. They want him to pack on a little more muscle and weight. They want him to get better in the post and have more confidence in his shot. They want him to learn the defense better. The fact is the hard working Johnson worked hard while in college and always did what the coaches asked. I expect Johnson to come into a long non lockout shortened training camp ready to show off some new skills like he did the year he was a conference defensive player of the year.
The Boston Celtics will need a deep bench to give the starters a long rest. A shot blocking athletic player like Johnson would be a huge step in that direction. Johnson has put himself on a very similar path as Avery Bradley did and that means that he could easily make that leap to rotation player. If he does, watch out for Boston next season. Remember Go Green or Go Home!!!!!!