Boston Celtics: Can JaJuan Johnson Develop As Well As Rajon Rondo Did?

Ryan KennedyAnalyst IIJuly 22, 2011

CHAMPAIGN, IL - FEBRUARY 13: JaJuan Johnson #25 of the Purdue Boilermakers takes a shot against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Assembly Hall on February 13, 2011 in Champaign, Illinois. Purdue defeated Illinois 81-70. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

JaJuan Johnson, the Celtics late first round draft pick up, is likely the future of either the center or power forward position after Kevin Garnett moves on.

Like Rondo, Johnson was not originally drafted by the Celtics, but was later traded for during the draft. JaJuan Johnson comes from a premier college program, just like Rondo, and was selected last in the first round, again like Rondo.

Does that mean Danny Ainge may have found another potential building block for the future?

JaJuan Johnson looks to be a suitable NBA player. He rebounds well for someone with such a light frame and is talented offensively. The major question about him is not his basketball IQ, but whether or not he can withstand the NBA grind.

Rondo came to the NBA as a talented but untested prospect. The problem was that his skills were not showcased properly, causing him to slide in the draft. Rondo looked the part though. 

Johnson was showcased properly. He was used properly and Purdue ran a style of ball that allowed him to comfortably fit in. Johnson's frame doesn't quite scream All-Pro power forward.

Johnson may have got better every year, but the problem with drafting juniors and seniors is that they generally are what they are. Johnson was a good college player, certainly no superstar, but he fits what the Celtics need.

He is a big man who can rebound, play some defense and score in a variety of ways. He sounds like a potential lottery pick with that description, but something caused him to fall. It seems that his lack of size and possible concerns about his ability to add size without disrupting his game may have caused the drop.

The major difference here is that Rondo had prototypical skills and size, but was used incorrectly, and that caused him to fall as teams questioned his ability. That, combined with a love/hate relationship with then Kentucky coach Tubby Smith. Johnson is the total opposite, he was used correctly for his skill set but might not fit prototypical size.

That tends to lead to bench players rather than All-Stars.

The biggest weakness that was exposed in the playoffs was the Celtics lack of depth in the frontcourt. With Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O'Neal being the only reliable forces down low, it was only a matter of time before the more explosive Miami Heat or Chicago Bulls would have ended the Celtics title run.

Johnson may have the skill, but not the size to be an All-Star like Rondo. That isn't to say he won't be a valuable addition to the Celtics. A big body is a big body.

He will definitely help support the front court next year. Down the line, if he can bulk up and listen to Garnett, that will certainly make this draft pick worth it.