JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore Eye Summer as Chance to Work on Game While Awaiting Opportunities With Celtics


JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore Eye Summer as Chance to Work on Game While Awaiting Opportunities With CelticsE'Twaun Moore has typically avoided the court or weight room for a week or so after basketball season to allow his body a chance to recuperate from months of hard running and physical play.

This offseason, the rookie guard for the Celtics is not sure if he will take that week off. Friday's game in Atlanta was the first time he logged more than 13 minutes in a game since Feb. 1, as the Celtics tightened their rotation for the playoffs.

The adjustment for NBA rookies is almost always difficult, and this season had the added dimension of the lockout. Not only have Moore and fellow rookie JaJuan Johnson, both Purdue products, had to adjust to a faster and more physical game and decreased playing time, they had to do so without the benefit of organized summer leagues, a full training camp or even regular practices.

As a result, both rookies feel they can contribute more in Boston, but they are still awaiting their opportunities.

"I'm still waiting for that chance," Moore said. "There's a lot more that I can do and a lot more ways I can contribute that I really haven't had a chance to do, but it'll come in the future."

Without full practices, they dig for ways to improve anywhere they can. Moore said he watches every play intently and has made mental notes of what he needs to work on this summer. Johnson has taken every free moment at shootarounds and walkthroughs to work with assistant coach Armond Hill, who helps him not only with Xs and Os but also gives him hints on the more subtle aspects of being a pro.

There has been no easing into the pros for Moore and Johnson, not when Doc Rivers is their coach and Kevin Garnett is one of their teammates.

"Those guys can be tough on you at times," Johnson said. "You've just got to be mature and keep in mind that they have your best interests at heart. You just take their advice and try to do better. At the end of the day, they'll do anything for you, so it's a good group of guys to be around."

Moore has shown glimpses of his innate scoring instincts, most notably in his 16-point eruption Jan. 26 in Boston's comeback win against the Magic. Both players received extended minutes in Atlanta, when Moore had five points and four rebounds in 18 minutes and Johnson scored four points in 15 minutes.

Apart from late-season cameos, the opportunities they are waiting for could come soon. Keyon Dooling, Marquis Daniels, Sasha Pavlovic and Mickael Pietrus, not to mention Ray Allen, all become free agents at the end of this season. Only Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Johnson are under contract beyond this season, with the second year of Moore's rookie contract unguaranteed.

As Bradley has shown, receiving little to no playing time as a rookie does not preclude a player from becoming a key member of rotation in his second season.

"It is encouraging," Moore said of Bradley's emergence from a five-minute-per-game afterthought last season to the starting shooting guard this year. "Seeing him do it definitely makes me think it's possible to come back in that second year and be ready and produce."

Moore and Johnson are determined to show what they can do on the court. They have no shortage of confidence — only opportunities.

Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.

TMZ logo

© 2017 NESN