As Dooling said, "They used to use the word, ‘tweener.' As my career progressed and I earned some respect around the league I became a combo guard."
That is E`Twaun in a nutshell. After three days of seeing what he can do, my opinion of him is turning. Initially, I was worried that as a "tweener," he'd get lost in the shuffle because he's good at everything but not great at anything (a line most Celtic fans are most familiar putting on Jeff Green). But let's just call Moore what he is: a gamer. Sure, this is all under the caveat of summer league play, but at his age, he's excelling against his contemporaries. Does that make him the best of the worst? Maybe, but every superstar was a rookie and every rookie plays in the summer league. This is a good first step for the 2011 second round draft pick and it shouldn't surprise anybody. As his Purdue teammate points out:
"I don't think there's ever a time when he's not confident," his former Purdue teammate JaJuan Johnson said. "He's been the man since he was younger. He's always been confident, he's always been the better player where he's from. I think that's good for him. He's mentally tough. I've never seen him playing basketball get down. He's always focused on the task at hand."
In the last three games, he's played poised and consistently produced at a high level on both sides of the ball. He can score at the rim, pull up at the free throw line, and hit the occasional 3. He's also done very well guarding the opposing teams best scorer (Lance Stephenson, Marshon Brooks). The question is whether his showing in Orlando makes him more attractive to Houston in a sign-and-trade for Courtney Lee or should the Celtics roll the dice and guarantee his second year?
Fab Melo (2 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) Better passer than I expected, but I'm curious if this is just a product of a fear of shooting. In the last two games, he's fit the ball nicely into tight passing lanes that have resulted in JJJ dunks, but when teams start picking up on his reluctance to shoot, those passes will become turnovers. Before and after the draft, there was talk about how he had developed a jump shot since leaving Syracuse; we've seen it here and there, but not consistently. A lot of what being successful in the NBA hinges on confidence and right now, Melo is lacking in that department. Obviously, we're only three games into the summer league and he's a raw prospect, but I'd like to see him take a few free throw line jumpers when the scene shifts to Vegas. But even with that said, he's a great passing big man. For a guy that's only been playing the game for a few years, he's shown a lot of good instincts. Can't wait to see how he responds to Garnett and Rondo.
JaJuan Johnson (11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks) More and more, JJJ is reminding me a lot of Hakim Warrickand if Johnson had come into the league when Warrick did, he might have suffered the same fate as the now 7-year NBA journeyman. But the NBA landscape is a little different now. Athleticism and length are premiums on the wing. Power forwards are no longer expected to create offense with their backs to the basket in the post. There has been some talk about moving Johnson to SF in order to utilize his speed and mask his inability to guard power bigs. As Paul Flannery points out:
Johnson is too sleight to handle the physical pounding inside, but he is skilled and there was talk last season of ultimately making him into a small forward, albeit a long three. For now, he's more comfortable playing the four, but he's had a hand in guarding multiple positions in Orlando, which will serve him well down the line.
"Maybe the four, I think, because I've had the most reps at the four," Johnson said. "I'm starting to feel comfortable at all of them. I think this experience being able to guard these positions will help me when his season starts."
I said it after the first two games and I'll say it again after watch JJJ today: JaJuan will be a very good complimentary player. Against Indiana, he flourished catching the ball and shooting quickly or cutting along the baseline.
Kris Joseph (12 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals) Like Moore, Joseph is making it harder and harder for Danny to not guarantee their contracts for next season. Because of his size, Joseph could fill in at both the 2 and 3 and with his versatile skill set, he's a great candidate for the Celtics' flop down screens that they used to run for Ray Allen.
Jared Sullinger (16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks) Another day, another solid game for Sullinger. He's just such a load in the paint. He'll bang you and bang you and bang you until he's got enough space for a little hook shot and if you play off him, he's got the mid-range jumper in his pocket. His consistency is almost boring as a blogger. What's promising is that he's compared himself to Kevin Love who was dogged for his weight and lack of athleticism but has since trimmed down and become one of the best young power forwards in the game.