Knowledge is power for Celtics' attentive Johnson

669874.jpg

Knowledge is power for Celtics' attentive Johnson

During the long plane rides, JaJuan Johnson turned to his teammate sitting across the aisle, asked a question, then intently listened to the response as the Boston Celtics traveled to their next destination.

As long as Kevin Garnett was willing to share his wisdom and experience during those trips, the rookie was eager to take it all in.

I sat across from him on the plane, so wed talk every flight, Johnson told CSNNE.com. He's all about listening. If you listen to him, he's going to share anything with you, so it's pretty cool.

Johnson didnt have much opportunity for playing time on a veteran squad in his first year. But perhaps just as valuable was the time he had with his teammates, including Garnett and Rajon Rondo, who he developed strong relationships with over the season.

It makes it easy just because I feel comfortable enough where I can ask about anything and they're going to give me an honest answer, Johnson, 23, said. You've got to really appreciate that because even though this is my first year, I feel like a lot of the other rookies didn't have a chance to do what myself and ETwaun (Moore) and Greg (Stiemsma) did.

The Celtics acquired Johnson on Draft Night last summer after he was selected by the New Jersey Nets with the 27th pick out of Purdue University. At 6-10, he was a long athletic power forward with a jumpshot and shot-blocking skills.

He was also patient. After averaging 35.4 minutes per game his senior year of college, he appeared in just 36 games for the Celtics as a rookie, averaging 8.3 minutes per game. He did not play in the C's postseason run which reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

I think our guys really kind of help us and talk to us and encourage us, Johnson said. Even if we're not playing, they make us feel like we're part of the team. I think with this veteran group of guys, it really helps. They're willing to show you stuff. All you've got to do is ask these guys and they'll do whatever they can to help you.

In addition to learning about the Celtics approach on the court, he has also picked up on their habits of studying up for game days. He became accustomed to pouring over scouting reports and analyzing his opponents tendencies on both ends of the floor.

If I took one thing from this year, it's really studying offensively and defensively what the other team likes to do, he sad. I was pretty amazed by how much these guys really do outside of just what we do here as far as watching film. That's the big thing that I really learned.

Johnson looks to put those words of advice to use during Summer League action next month. As one of just four players under contract with the Celtics next season, he believes he can fit into their system in his second year.

He also continues to work on adding on muscle. Johnson faced skepticism upon entering the league because of his stature. He estimates he has gained 10 pounds since being drafted and currently weighs around 225 pounds. Johnson would like to reach 230 pounds while maintaining his running and jumping explosiveness.

I'm athletic, I can run, jump, block shots, knock down shots, and bring some athleticism to our team and energy, he said. Obviously this summer I'm going to really try to work on getting stronger and things like that, but I definitely feel like next year, I'll be able to contribute more to the team.

If he has questions along the way, he knows he has met a group of veterans he can always call upon.

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
 
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
 
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
 
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
 
This season, all-NBA first team defender is  the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
 
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.


 

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

WALTHAM, Mass. – To dunk or not to dunk with the best in the NBA?
 
That is the question Celtics rookie forward Jaylen Brown is grappling with these days.
 
The 6-foot-7 Brown confirmed that he has been invited to be part of the league’s Slam Dunk competition at All-Star weekend, but hasn’t made up his mind as to whether he will participate.
 
Brown said he’ll likely make a decision about it sometime this weekend.
 
While he certainly understands that is indeed an honor for any player to be asked to participate in All-Star weekend, Brown said his trepidation about being part of the slam dunk competition has a lot to do with its potential impact on his body and how that may affect his ability to recharge over the weekend and get ready to finish out his rookie season strong.
 
If he decided to enter the contest, he would be facing some really stiff competition from last year’s winner Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, whose battle last season put their slam dunk competition among the best ever.
 
Facing tough competition is not something that concerns Brown.
 
“I’m not worried about anybody or anything,” Brown said. “I think I have a lot to offer. Just like your rookie year, your body and everything … it’s a lot. All those dunks, they look cool but it takes a toll on your body for sure. I want to put myself in the best position to help the team.”
 
While his focus has been on the Celtics, Brown acknowledged he has been getting a few tips on the competition from teammate Gerald Green, who is also a former Slam Dunk champion.
 
“[Gerald] Green has been coaching me up, giving me a lot of good ideas I wouldn’t have thought on my own,” Brown said. “If I do decide to do it, it’ll be some stuff [nobody] has seen before.”