Commentary

E'Twaun shooting for Moore action

Second-year Celtics guard knows summer league is make-or-break opportunity

Updated: July 10, 2012, 10:17 PM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Boston Celtics second-year guard E'Twaun Moore is on a nonguaranteed contract, one that gives the team until midnight of the final summer league game to decide whether he deserves a spot on the 2012-13 roster.

Summer league can be pressure-packed for any young player. But imagine knowing that you've got 10 games to cement your spot. Envision that unshakable feeling that every decision, every shot is being scrutinized by the team brass watching intently on the baseline. That's enough to rattle most anyone.

Anyone but Moore.

[+] EnlargeE'Twaun Moore
Fernando Medina/Getty ImagesE'Twaun Moore pressures the Nets' MarShon Brooks in summer league action Tuesday.

The 24-year-old guard is rather unflappable. It's maybe his strongest trait, even beyond his shooting prowess and evolving point guard skills. This is a monster summer for him, and he seems purposely oblivious to his situation.

"I'm just trying to play, just trying to play hard and trying to get better," said Moore. "That's all I can control. That's all I'm thinking about."

Moore's fearlessness is what endeared him to the Celtics even though he didn't have last summer to showcase his skills before his rookie campaign due to the lockout. JaJuan Johnson, a lifelong friend and college teammate at Purdue, can't remember a single time his pal has showed a hint of nervousness on the basketball court.

"I don't think there's ever been a time when he's not confident," said Johnson. "He's always been confident, he's always been the better player, the leading scorer. I think that's good for him. I've never seen him really get down in the game; he's always focused on the task ahead."

Moore wears No. 55 in part as a reminder of his draft position. He knows he's not, as Johnson noted, "the better player" at this level. At least not yet. But he's certain he belongs here.

Moore appeared in 38 games last season, playing a total of 331 minutes. In that span, he averaged 2.9 points while shooting 38.1 percent from the floor and 37.8 percent beyond the 3-point arc.

Asked last week about Moore's future, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was blunt: "This is a big summer for E'Twaun. ... His performance [at summer league] will be huge for him."

The departure of Ray Allen and a lack of depth at the guard position have opened some doors for Moore. Not only is there a chance to stick on this roster, but he'll have the chance to carve out a role.

He's made a solid impression so far at summer league. He's averaging 15.5 points per game as one of the team's starting guards, mixing time both on and off the ball. On Tuesday, he chipped in 15 points, five rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block over 28:30 in an 82-73 triumph over the Brooklyn Nets.

Ironically, it was just down the hall here at the Amway Center that Moore put together maybe his best game as a pro. In a late-January tilt with the Magic, he came off the bench to hit 5 of 6 shots (including all four 3-pointers he hoisted) as part of a 16-point effort that aided the Celtics in rallying from a monster hole for a 91-83 triumph.

Moore's shooting has never been in question. With more floor time, his scoring will come. But the Celtics are trying to maximize Moore's talents by shaping him into a combo guard because he would be more likely to see the floor if he can handle the ball and help spell Rajon Rondo.

That's a work in progress, but Moore spent much of last season trying to absorb the way Rondo orchestrates the offense and, most notably, how he creates off the pick-and-roll.

Celtics assistant coach Ty Lue, a former point guard who's in charge of running the summer squad, likes what he's seen in Moore's development.

"I feel good [about E'Twaun], not having a chance to play in summer league last year, not playing at all in practice this year because we didn't really practice at all. Then when we did, the vets wouldn't let him on the court. I thought he did a great job. ...

"He's growing, he looks good. He plays at his own pace. You can never speed him up, you can never fluster him, he's doing a good job."

There's that inability to be rattled again, something that will serve him well if he plays both guard spots. He must be able to put missed shots or turnovers behind him. Moore can't dwell on the mistakes or he won't have an opportunity to fix them.

The more forgiving nature of summer league, where he can log 30 minutes of floor time as opposed to, say, 30-second bursts at the end of a lopsided regular-season game, should aid his development over the next two weeks.

"I'm just trying to get better, build good habits," he said. "Doing things that Doc and our team needs me to do. ... I'm trying to build each day, each game. Trying to get better, trying to get into the flow of the game, pick my spots with scoring and passing."

It'll come as no surprise that Moore is confident those parts of his game will come.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

EDITORS' PICKS