The Rookie Celtics should take advantage of extra time
The careers of JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore have been tied together for many years. The four-year seniors from Purdue were able to bring their school great success by leading their team together as they finished out the remainder of their NCAA eligibility.
Upon graduation, both young players were hopeful that they could make an NBA roster, and although there was much promise in both players, no one could have predicted they would be given the opportunity to remain teammates as members of the Boston Celtics.
Johnson seems to be a lock to make the roster, as the Celtics are in need of big men, and it seems that Moore should be able to earn himself a spot as a contributor as well, especially with the Celtics lacking in the area of reserve players.
With the lockout in place, it is time to examine the effect of the NBA closing the doors on these young players and the impact it could have for their first seasons as professional athletes.
Training camp, summer league and interactions with coaches are all out of the question for the newest members of the Celtics. Missing these events will require them to find different ways to get introduced to the NBA style of play, which will likely hurt the players, as it appears their first games at the professional level could be in the regular season.
They will have to gain the trust of the coaches through their play in the first few team practices and games, but Johnson and Moore could set themselves up for success by taking advantage of the extra time the lockout gives them.
Ray Allen has already stated that he plans to host any of his teammates that are interested in working out at his alma mater, UConn.
This setting is exactly the training atmosphere that Moore needs to gain the ability he will require to really contribute in Boston. He should get in touch with Ray as soon as possible, and Ray's dedication and support for his teammates means he will surely help Moore in every way possible.
Getting some close mentoring from the all-time record holder in three-pointers made, not to mention one of the best conditioned athletes in the NBA, will allow Moore to elevate his game to a pro level and begin to learn the Celtic style of play.
A bit undersized and not hugely athletic, Moore will be expected to be a great shooter. Although he already has a great base, working with Ray Allen will allow him to learn the best ways to improve his shot and create the best opportunities for his success.
Johnson may be the luckiest of the two, as he has the opportunity to train under one of the greatest power forwards to play the game, Kevin Garnett.
Garnett is always interested in helping younger players with their game, as long as they listen the first time he attempts to help them. Johnson has expressed great interest in learning from the veteran Garnett, and if the future Hall of Famer decides to join Ray at UConn, Johnson would have the support of Moore at practice every day.
Either way, Johnson should reach out immediately for some one-on-one time with KG. Even Doc Rivers has stated that Johnson is similar to KG in his style of play, which gives Johnson even more reason to pay attention to every word the aging veteran has to say.
Johnson was a great rebounder and shooter in college, but it will take some adjustment to get the same opportunities in the NBA, and Garnett could teach him the proper post moves and positioning to best get the ball where it needs to be.
The defensive part of his game will require a lot of focus to bring it to the level the Celtics expect, but Garnett will help to bring out an even higher level of defense from the young player. Overall, Johnson is in the best position of almost any rookie in the league this year, with the chance to learn from some of the greatest players in the NBA today.
The extra one-on-one time that both players will most likely spend with the veterans of the Boston Celtics will allow them to grow, away from the coaching staff, in a lower-pressure situation before they are forced to prove themselves on the court.
Further, these player-run practices will give the players the opportunity to learn from each other and grow closer as a team as they rely on each other to better themselves. The teammates that attend the player-run training sessions will hopefully gain back some of the chemistry the team was missing towards the end of the year.
Johnson and Moore already have the chemistry with each other that they need to be able to support each other over the next few months, and hopefully the rest of the team can join around them, creating a tight-knit group before the season even begins.
JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore could use the lockout to build their game to a level that would allow them to contribute to the team as soon as the next season begins.