Last night, the Boston Celtics easily handled the feeble New Jersey Nets, who were without Deron Williams and Kris Humphries, 89-70. Although Paul Pierce looked like his old self again, Brandon Bass seemed unstoppable and Avery Bradley had a great game, too, none of those things caught my attention as much as the Celtics and their drafting ability.
I know those thoughts are usually reserved for the period after the season and before the draft, but it was all I could think about while watching the game. It was without a doubt MarShon Brooks who set these thoughts off. He was the player the Celtics drafted in the first round of the draft this year, but soon traded to the Nets to get JaJuan Johnson.
Brooks has looked good so far this season, but he looked especially good in the first half of last night's game. He finished the game with 17 points, but nearly all of those were scored in the first half because in the second half, he got doubled every time he touched the ball.
To put that in perspective, the last player I can remember the Celtics consistently doubling is Carmelo Anthony, and I don't remember them every doubling him for an entire half.
Meanwhile, while Brooks was putting on a show, the player the Celtics actually got in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft, JaJuan Johnson, was on the bench—a place where he has been all season. It wasn't until the last few minutes of the blowout that Johnson got in; and for the five minutes he was in, he made no statistical impact.
Brooks is not the only player the Celtics missed out on, though. In fact, just a few games ago, Norris Cole lit up the Celtics with 20 points. Cole was selected three spots after the Celtics picked. The Celtics essentially missed out on two of the best rookie guards to get Johnson, who has scored four points all season.
But amidst all of these thoughts about the Celtics' poor drafting, Avery Bradley was having his best game of the season. He played absolutely stifling defense, evidenced by his two steals, scored 11 points and dished out two assists.
Just last year, Bradley was in the same position Johnson is in now. Bradley spent the majority of his rookie season on the bench, and actually some of it in the D-League. He was also criticized as a bad draft pick all of last season—and perhaps it's too early to call him a good draft pick quite yet. But now, he has cracked Doc's rotation and appears to be improving each game and gaining confidence.
That got me thinking: Maybe it's not the players that the Celtics draft that are bad—maybe it is just the environment they are drafted into that is unsuitable for rookies.
Players need playing time to make an impact, and for a rookie like JaJuan Johnson on a team like the Boston Celtics, there is very little playing time to be found. You can't expect a rookie to break a rotation at the power forward position on a team that already has Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox.
We can't really judge Johnson for not playing and we can't judge Doc for not playing him. Perhaps Johnson will eventually live up to those drafted around him, but until he can find playing time, he cannot do that.
Just like Avery Bradley, Johnson will need to wait his turn, which likely won't come until next season. Then, perhaps, he can prove himself and justify his drafting over Brooks or Cole. After all, he has played less minutes (13) than Brooks averages points per game (14).
So, at least until next year, I will reserve my judgements on the Celtics drafting ability.