Grab Bag: Why not JaJuan?

March, 20, 2012
3/20/12
10:30
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Mark L. Baer/US PresswireCeltics rookie JaJuan Johnson has the size, but the team remains reluctant to utilize him.
Every now and then we dip into our Celtics Mailbag to tackle a question in the blog:

Q: Whatever happened to your mailbag? Anyway, what is so wrong with JaJuan Johnson? If the Celtics are searching for a big man -- and from the sounds of it they are desperate for a big man -- don't they have one sitting on the bench who is young and athletic? -- Carl (New York City)

A: Glad you asked about the 'bag, Carl. The Celtics' schedule has been so crazy that we simply haven't had time lately to dive into the questions. With the Celtics enjoying back-to-back days off this week, the plan is to dust off the bag and tackle some questions. If you want to help fill it up, hop HERE to submit your questions.

As for why the Celtics won't give Johnson a chance, I think there's a couple reasons. We all know Celtics coach Doc Rivers is reluctant to play rookies, particularly if he's not confident in their ability to grasp the playbook (and Johnson had that much-publicized moment in Toronto where he drew Rivers' ire for not being in the right spots). Overall, I think Rivers likes what he's seen in Johnson's development during his rookie campaign, but with such limited practice time, it's very difficult for a young player to develop that much-needed trust to earn floor time.

Rivers also said something revealing a couple weeks back when he noted that Boston simply isn't sure "if JaJuan's a big." The insinuation there is that, while he's got size, he might be more of a wing player at the moment and the team needs to bulk up his frame before he's ready to go rumble down low in the NBA.

It's still a little surprising that, outside of trash time, the Celtics haven't thrown Johnson into the mix just to see if he can help defray some of the wear-and-tear on the bigs. That said, the idea of an all-rookie frontcourt if Johnson and Greg Stiemsma were on the floor together, might simply be too risky as both young players develop (Stiemsma at least has a defined position being a pure center).

Expect more from Johnson in future seasons, but clearly the schedule is working against him this year and it may be contributing to his absence from the floor despite Boston's need for size.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
18.4 2.0 1.2 35.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.4
AssistsR. Rondo 10.7
StealsR. Rondo 1.7
BlocksJ. Sullinger 0.9