Even just a few short months ago, many people were scrutinizing Boston Celtics President Danny Ainge for drafting guard Avery Bradley. Bradley never really got much of a chance his rookie year as rode the pine and learned from practicing with the team. He showed flashes, but hardly enough to earn minutes his rookie year with veterans like Ray Allen, Delonte West, and Rajon Rondo ahead of him. After Bradley struggled most of the first few months on the offensive end, people felt that Bradley would just be another young player with a world of talent that never lived up to his potential (see Gerald Green among others). Fast forward to right now and Avery Bradley has perhaps pushed hall of famer Ray Allen to the bench with his stellar play. This should give a guy like JaJuan Johnson a lot of hope and a model to follow.
Johnson is experiencing the same issues that Bradley has had to go through. The young man has shown plenty of flashes with his sweet jump shot and athletic skills, but he has just not grasped the defensive end and rebounding enough to earn real minutes. In his defense it is also hard to break into a solid group that included Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox, and the defensive minded rookie with size in Greg “Steamboat” Stiemsma. However, if he played well like Greg did, he would play.
Bradley had the same issues, but he worked very hard in practice. He also listened to his teammates and coaches and worked on his game. The results were staggering. Bradley is light years better on the offensive end now from his rookie year and his defense is even more refined as he has avoided silly fouls by over playing the opponent.
Johnson needs to do the same thing. Johnson has all the right talents to be a solid NBA player. he has great length and athleticism. He has great shot blocking instincts and runs the floor well. His jumps hot from mid range is NBA ready. However, he needs to refine his game. He needs to listen to his coaches and work on positioning as well as rebounding. He needs to soak in the information that guys like KG give him. He needs to immerse himself in the game plans on both ends of the floor. If he does this, he will become a real player in this league like Bradley has. Much like I did bet on Bradley becoming a true player in this league, I am betting on Johnson to become a real player as soon as next year. Remember Go Green Or Go Home!!!!!