What's that you say? Two posts in the last 6 hours on a rookie that only played garbage time and might not see the court for another few weeks? Why yes, why not? Everyone loves this kid because he's tall, skilled, and has that mystical quality that rookies that don't get playing time but show flashes of talent have.
The question is, can we hope for an Al Jefferson or Kendrick Perkins type of development? Or is it more along the lines of J.R. Giddens? Or perhaps something in the middle like Bill Walker? Doc seems to be confident in him.
"I told you last week, JaJuan will play, I really believe this,’’ Rivers said. "Sooner than later. You can see it in the silly practices that we have. He just keeps getting better. His energy is unbelievable. He’s an offensive weapon. He can shoot the ball. He can run the floor and where he’s really improved is his positioning defensively on the post. JaJuan’s going to be a good player, I really believe that and maybe this year.’’
That is encouraging for the young man. Especially after he hasn't looked all that good early on. He chalks that mostly up to jitters.
"It’s good for me, personally, to have a game like this," Johnson said. "I definitely want to be a contributor on this team, so I’m going to do all I can to put extra time in and help this team win games. "I've been feeling a little bit more comfortable lately. I would say the last two or three weeks, it's been really good for me. Starting the season like I did -- I had a couple of airballs in there -- I think it was just a little jitters and being so tight coming off the bench, stuff like that. I’ve just tried to see a few shots fall."
He's looking to teammates for teaching and inspiration.
"[Garnett] is always there to answer any questions I have," said Johson. "He gives me advice. During the game, I messed up on a play, and it was definitely my fault. But he told me to stick with it and keep playing, and I did that." The rookie also has the added benefit of seeing hard work pay off even after rookie hardships with the play of Avery Bradley. Bradley struggled with injuries and sporadic playing time his rookie season, but in his second year Bradley has become a significant contributor to the Celtics. "You can either be like, ‘Man I’m thrown in the game at the end of the game, and I should be getting more playing time,’" said Bradley. "Or you can go and play like JaJuan did. I think he played so well. It’s hard because you are just being thrown out there and you don’t want to make any mistakes."
I'm rooting for him, I just hope he can learn the defense well enough to be able to contribute offensively at some point. Maybe this year, or perhaps not till next year. It wouldn't hurt if he added some muscle mass too. He'll always be skinny, but some meat would help.