But even with an All-American pedigree along with Big Ten Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors to his credit, expectations of Johnson heading into his rookie season have to be tempered.
It's simple, really.
When you look at where Johnson was drafted, rarely does a player 6-10 or taller taken late in the first round, contribute in a meaningful way to a championship-caliber team immediately.
"Obviously we got some work to do," Johnson told Comcast SportsNet's Kyle Draper shortly after being drafted. "And I'm ready to put in the work."
Mannix said that although he needs development, Celtics first-round draft pick JaJuan Johnson “in a few years could become a legitimate starter in this league.”
“He is a big guy, a legitimate 6-foot-10 with that I think 7-foot-2 wingspan,” Mannix said. “He’s a very good low-post player. … I think with NBA coaching he can become an even more polished offensive player.”
Mannix also said that Johnson should develop well under the veteran leadership the Celtics have.
“I think JaJuan Johnson is going to benefit enormously from playing behind Kevin Garnett for a year, and practicing against him for a year, two years,” Mannix said. “I think having Garnett and having Ray Allen on the roster are invaluable assets, because guys are going to be able to learn from these two guys.”
This is basically the same stuff I've been trying to say… said by people who can say it better than me. Ok, I haven't said that I think JaJuan could end up being a starter in the NBA someday. That much I can't really say yet.
But Chris Mannix is right when he says learning under the veterans, and getting with the strength coaches, will benefit this kid tremendously. The bottom line is that in time, this kid could turn out to be something. I'd love for him to be a quick study and earn some legit minutes this season. We'll have to wait and see on that, though.
Maybe Doc sums it up best (from the CSNNE.com link)
"You gotta put him on the floor," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "I can't tell you if he'll help or not. I think he'll be an NBA plyer, and a good one. It may take him some time; it may not."
By the way, if you're in town, head on over to West End Johnnie's this afternoon for the third Boston Sports Blogapalooza. I'll be on a Celtics panel with Jessica Camerato, A. Sherrod Blakely, Scott Sudikoff and Raj Prashad. The event starts at noon. The panel starts at about quarter of 3. More details can be found here.
The rest of the links:
CSNNE.com: Q&A with JaJuan Johnson | Who is E'Twaun Moore? | KG on lockout, Baby fishes | ESPN Boston: Davis a best buy in free agency? | Allen up for an ESPY | What if Dallas took Johnson at 26? | Rookie Bigs can have an immediate impact | Johnson: Opportunity of a lifetime | WEEI: All you need to know about JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore | C's build for future while addng to present | Herald: Up against the clock