Summer League Celtics vs Atlanta - were JJJ & E'Twuan really "useless"? -breakdown of a sequence

After the Atlanta game, I came onto CelticsBlog and was surprised to see a number of posters offering extreme reviews of the game. Specifically, certain bloggers really amped up their criticisms of both JaJuan Johnson and E'Twuan Moore. The criticisms were so extreme you would think from their comments that JJ and EM were not only bad basketball players, but basically laid down in the middle of the court and did nothing.

Now, I was not totally surprised. Certain posters have already established themselves as not liking the Purdue boys and statistically, neither had an overwhelming breakout day.

J. Johnson: 22:01m, 1-4 FGM-A, 4-6 FTM-A, 4 DReb (5 Total), 2 assists, 1 block, 6 points.

E. Moore: 25:48m, 4-10 FGM-A, 1-3 3PT, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 TOs, 9 points.

On the stat sheet, things did indeed look pretty lame. But nevertheless, I had watched the game and my take away was no where near the damning comments that some posters were expressing. Not only in the post-game article comments, but also in a rather hate-fest filled forum thread titled, "JaJuan Johns == useless?".

Comments included such gems as (names left off to protect those who wish to disclaim):

"I thought Moore looked horrible."

"JaJuan was awful and remains awful."

"Don’t know which game you were watching today but EM was horrible."

"There’s zero value in JJJ. I don’t care how high arching his jump shot is, he’s a waste."

"If I were running things, JJJ would be the first one out the door, out of those guys."

"not sure who wjsy but a lot of people disagree with him and I am included. If he thinks E Moore’s defense has been good he has watched a whole different series of summer games."

"I'm sick of the JJJ apologists, and I'm sick of JJJ's tepid play."

"Dump JaJuan"

"looks like Johnson is a bust"

"Euro league."

"Can we trade him to New Jersey for Brooks?"

"He doesnt play defense so he'll be in the dog house. I hope we get rid of him in a sign and trade and he helps us land somebody."

"To me the TWO big things that make the three rookies better than JJJ , is this

The have the MOTOR ... hussle and attitude
Second..... the three Rookies are all GOOD PASSERS Wink!!! and see the court really well. JJJ can't handle the ball or pass to save his life. He is not looking to make a pass unless he happens to get a rebound. He can jump pretty good, but he doesn't seem to want to BANG with Sully and Melo inside at all.."

"It's a shame someone as talented as he is lacks heart to play this game. Where is the effort, the hustle, the passions for the game. Too cool to do much of anything."

"He does nothing other than occasionally hit a wide open jumpshot."

"useless is the accurate word for JJJ's play in the summer league."

"He is too slow to guard 3's, to weak and clueless to guard 4's, doesn't rebound well and can't get a contested shot off.

I have to ask if you guys defending him have watched the summer league games?"

Okay, there were more. But this last one got me thinking, "Well, yes. Did you?"

Some of the above comments are so divorced from what I saw in the game that I literally had to laugh at them. But then I thought - well, maybe I was temporarily insane while I was watching the game? There was only one thing to do: Go to the tape.

The NBA Summer League Broadband feature allows you to play back games at your leasure and really, actually double and triple check to see exactly what happened.

After the jump I will break down the critical sequence of the Celtics-Atlanta game. This was the stretch in the fourth where we went from Atlanta making a push to get close to suddenly blowing it open.

Here is a _FACTUAL_ play-by-play breakdown of what happened in this latest game against Atlanta in the most critical sequence of possessions. I am including every possession in the sequence:

The setting: Halfway through the 4th period, a mix of bench and starters (Fab Melo, Jamar Smith, Jonathan Gibson with Jared Sullinger & Dionte Christmas) were on the floor while Atlanta crept back to within 10 points in the 4th. It would have been even closer but for 3 missed open shots by the Hawks and a great saving block by Fab.

Lue put JaJuan Johnson, Kris Joseph & E'Twuan Moore back in with Sully & Christmas - in other words, the starting lineup - with 7 1/2 minutes to go. The score was 70-60. Here is what happened when our two slow, clueless, useless Purdue boys got on the floor:

  • First possession - The C's work the ball down low on multiple passes (Smooge->JJ->Joseph->Sully), but Sully loses it while doubled and then commits a foul, giving the Hawks a side-out.
  • The Hawks bring it down and execute a pick to pop Benson wide open. JJ comes over on help quickly and contests the jumper, directly causing a miss. Christmas grabs and brings it up and makes a long spot-up jumper.
  • On the next defensive possession you can see JJ frustrating Hassell by denying position under the post. The Hawks then bring Hassell out to set a high screen, they switch and JJ plays the roll and the guard ends up smothered in traffic, though he manages to pass out to Jenkins whom should have been covered but Christmas has let float too far from him. Joseph comes over to try to help but it is too late and Jenkins curls around him and gets the shot off from 10 feet.
  • On the other end, Joseph gets doubled along the sidelined and fouled. He sides in to Smooge who works it along the arc. JJ comes out to the top of the key, bringing his man with him, leaving Sully with just one man down low. Unfortunately, Smooge fails to see this and instead of passing in, takes a long jumper, which misses. Fortunately the ball goes out of bounds off them. Unfortunately, Smooge passes in to Christmas who trips and turns the ball over for an easy Hawks bucket. The lead is down to 8 with 5:42 to go.
  • Smooge brings it up. Sully sets a high screen and then rolls to the basket as the defense overloads to Smooge, JJ & Joseph. Joseph sees this and passes in to Sully and the Hawks are forced to foul. They side in and Xmas gets the ball to JJ at the elbow where he takes and misses a jumper. Sully gets fouled while fighting for the rebound. He makes both free throws.
  • The Hawks bring it up and JJ gets matched up with Scott, who probably outweighs him by 15 lbs. Nevertheless, JJ does a great job of first denying him the paint and then forcibly boxing him out in order to grab the defensive rebound. He hands the ball to Xmas who bring it up quickly and takes a spot-up 3PT shot.
  • On the next defensive possession, the Hawks get it down to Benson who beats Sully on a curl before JJ can get over to help. Fortunately Sully's foul is before the shot so the Hawks side in. Smooge steps in a grabs a bad pass and takes off up the court. He is forced to dribble in the back court by some good transition D by the Hawks guard but spots a streaking JJ already behind the defense, passes in to him for an easy dunk. The lead is back up to 15 with 4:09 to go.
  • On the next defensive possession, Christmas commits a foul away from the ball and the Hawks side in. The C's defense morphs momentarily into a zone, with JJ manning the paint by himself until Benson sags, bringing Sully back with him. Ultimately the Hawks settle for a kick-out long jumper from the corner, which misses. JJ grabs the rebound and flips to Smooge to bring it up.
  • On the offensive side, Smooge passes to JJ at the elbow who tries to pass out to Xmas but has it blocked by the help defender. Fortunately JJ grabs the loose ball and then alertly sees Joseph moving behind the defense to the hoop. He fires the pass and Joseph completes a contested layup and gets fouled for an 'and 1'. Joseph completes the 3 point play and the lead is 18 with 3:20 to go.
  • On the next possession, the C's again force a bad shot. JJ is in great position for the defensive rebound and grabs it but gets fouled over the back so it doesn't count on his stats, but the Hawks turnover does.
  • JJ sides in the Smooge who brings it up. JJ sets a high screen for Smooge who curls towards the basket and kicks the ball back to JJ who then drives behind the defense down the lane, drawing a foul. Lue pulls the starters and puts the bench back in while JJ makes one of two free throws.
  • On the next defensive possession, the Hawks throw the ball out of bounds, committing a turnover.
  • At this point Lue pulls JJ from the game. The score is 83-64 with 2:46 remaining.

The above play-by-play is directly based on analyzing the game tape.

Eight offensive and eight defensive possessions. JJ was a principle player, causing a distinct positive impact on almost every possession. Smooge was positively involved in over half the plays. The C's outscored the Hawks 13-4 and put the game away.

It is certainly still up to debate on whether Johnson and/or Moore has a future with the Celtics or the NBA. But I find it lacking any sort of credibility to have actually _watched_ this game and in particular this sequence and then to come up with conclusions involving words like "useless" and "clueless".

I'm thinking that a number of posters have formed such strong opinions that they no longer bother to watch the games! They just spew what they think (or want) happened.

FanPosts are fan-created content and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CelticsBlog. Be respectful and keep it clean. Thanks.

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