With the rash of injuries and the kiddie pool depth at the center spot, you'd think that Doc would be willing and eager to try out his rookie big man JaJuan Johnson. Not so much. Here were Doc's words before the game.
But Johnson isn't ready to play meaningful minutes in big games for the Celtics, according to coach Doc Rivers. "Not yet," said Rivers. "I think he's getting close. You've got to execute when you're on the floor. That's an area he has to improve on. He's talented, but there's a level to me of intensity that you have to play with every night, and focus. And he's inconsistent. But he's getting there, and he's a great kid, and he will be there."
On the other hand, actions sometimes speak louder than words. Johnson played 33 minutes and scored 12 points on 6 of 13 shooting and added 4 rebounds (3 offensive!) and a blocked shot too. So, all is well right? The lid is off and he will play more now right? Again, not so fast.
"He’s got to keep doing it," said Rivers. "One game doesn’t make a star. One season doesn’t make a star. So you’ve just got to keep doing it and he’s got to do it consistently. He will, like I keep saying. He’s a great kid and he wants to do it. He’s young and he’s still learning focus and all that. But he’s a good player."
I think Doc is trying to walk the fine line here. He wants to praise his player for having a good day but he also wants to challenge him.
Remember that it was reported that he was one of the guys that Doc lit into during his tirade the other day. I get the feeling that the kid was not in the right spots and Doc needed to make sure that he woke up and got to where he needed to be. Of course nobody but the Celtics can tell you exactly what happened so I'm just guessing there. The good news is that it seems like JaJuan took the criticism for what it was and took it to heart.
On Friday night JaJuan Johnson walked off the court and was greeted by an unhappy Doc Rivers during an ugly loss to the Toronto Raptors. The rookie took all of it in and remembered it for the next game, a Sunday afternoon match up against the Chicago Bulls. “I’m not really the type to get down on myself if the coach yells at you or anything like that,” he told CSNNE.com prior to the Celtics 95-91 win. “You’ve just got to take it and learn from it, and the next time you’ve just got to do better. Hopefully that’s the case.”
He also admits to not knowing the playbook as well as he should - which was one of the key points in Doc's rant.
Bottom line is, Doc is saying he needs to be more consistent. I'll bet that he means with more than just his shooting touch too. He has to rotate on defense the right way every time or the defense collapses on itself. It must be hard for a coach to watch KG's all world defense on one play and then sub in a green rook the next time down the court.
With that said, I can't help but be excited about this kid's potential. In particular when I see him running the break with Rondo and flushing an alley oop. Might be a sign of things to come, ...as long as he can win over Doc consistently.