The Doc's Orders: Get Something Out Of The Young Guys.
In this lockout shortened season The already old Boston Celtics could look even older. Coach Doc Rivers will have to come up with some sort of plan to rest his veterans on back to backs... and especially on the dreaded back to back to backs.
As of right now The Celtics only have 8 players, and we're all assuming a 9th with Jeff Green. Of course among those 8 players are last years starting five, but the other 3 are Avery Bradley, 2nd round pick E'Twaun Moore, and 1st round pick JaJuan Johnson. These three players have to contribute valuable minutes in the regular season... there's no way around it.
Here's a breakdown of rookie minutes since 2007 under Doc Rivers:
2007. Glen Davis (PF)- 69 Games, 13.6 minutes per game.
Gabe Pruitt (G)- 15 Games, 6.3 minutes per game.
JR Giddens (G/F)- 6 Games, 1.3 minutes per game.
Billy Walker (SF)- 29 Games, 7.4 minutes per game.
Lester Hudson (G)- 16 games, 4.4 minutes per game
Avery Bradley (G)- 30 games, 5.4 minutes per game Semih Erden (C)- 37 games, 14.4 minutes per game Luck Harangody (F)- 28 games, 8.6 minutes per game
Only two rookies played over 10 minutes per game and they were both big men. Luke Harangody was third with 8.6 minutes per game before being traded, he would also be considered a big man.
This should give hope to rookie JaJuan Johnson who, like Harangody, is a 4 year college player. Johnson is considered one of the most advanced offensive big men in this years draft. He not only has soft hands around the basket but also comes equipped with a knock down 18 foot jump shot. Johnson is also an 80% free throw shooter. However none of these skills are what should get him immediate minutes in Boston... It's his long reach and defensive ability that will have people raving. JaJuan won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year behind his 2.3 blocks and 1 steal per game. JJ compares himself to Kevin Garnett and if you just looked at him compared to a 18 year old KG coming out of high school, it's not that far off. If he can pay attention and get under Kevin's wing he could be something special.
E'Twaun Moore is similar to George Hill, who played in San Antonio last season. Like Hill, Moore is a 4 year college basketball player who projects to be a combo guard at the NBA level. E'Twaun has a bit more size at 6'4" (Hill is 6'2"), and is coming from Purdue who is known for their defense and winning. It would help Moore that he was a 4 year teammate of fellow rookie JaJuan Johnson. The both of them should benefit greatly from being mature, older rookies as well as having each other to lean on.
Up last is 2nd year PG Avery Bradley. Coming out of last years draft Avery was voted by his fellow rookies as the most NBA-Ready defender. While Avery didn't get much opportunity last year, he did show that he will make opposing PG's work. In a game with Boston's D-League affiliate Bradley set a D-League record with 9 steals in a single game. Then on the last night of the regular season he gave fans a glimpse of his potential against the New York Knicks. Avery played 26 minutes, scored 20 points on 10-16 shooting, had 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. Bradley has discussed how eager he is to get back and improve after missing training camp his rookie year. Expect an impressive 2nd season out of Avery Bradley.
The Boston Celtics are over the cap and only have a few options when it comes to acquiring more rotation players. If Rivers refuses to use his young guys and rides KG, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce... the playoffs will once again be short and sweet. If Doc sacrifices a couple games on the 2nd & 3rd nights of back to backs in order to give valuable experience to his youth... well then he could end up with some nice young athletic players to help in The Big 3's final Playoff push.