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Celtics get two Purdue players in NBA draft
BOSTON (AP) - The Boston Celtics thoroughly scouted players throughout the country and ended up acquiring two from the same school on Thursday night.
They chose two senior stars from Purdue _ 6-foot-10 forward JaJuan Johnson and 6-foot-4 guard E’Twaun Moore _ as they continued building toward the day when the Big Three that brought an NBA title in 2008 is gone.
Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, both 35, are signed for just one more season. Paul Pierce, 33, has three years left on his contract. The only other Celtics signed for next season are guards Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, and center Jermaine O'Neal. Coach Doc Rivers is signed for five more years.
Johnson, the 6-foot-10 Big Ten player of the year and defensive player of the year, was traded to the Celtics after being drafted by the New Jersey Nets with the 27th pick. The Celtics also obtained the Nets‘ second-round pick in 2014 for Providence guard Marshon Brooks, who they drafted with the 25th choice at New Jersey’s request.
Johnson and Moore are skilled on both offense and defense.
“There are guys we refer to as both-end-of-the-court players,” Ainge said. “We think we got two of those guys.”
The Celtics went into the draft seeking shooting and size. Enter Johnson.
A member of The Associated Press’ first-team All-America team last season, he averaged 20.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks last season. In four years, Johnson averaged 13.7 points and 6.1 rebounds and sank 50.1 percent of his shots.
“He’s a confident shooter,” Rivers said. “Watching him in the workouts, he kind of knows where his shots come from. It’s funny. He didn’t stray far away from his spots and that tells you he’s mature enough to understand who he is and how he plays.
“He has length and he’s a shot blocker.”
At 220 pounds, Johnson’s build is like Garnett‘s. He certainly can benefit from the veteran’s lessons.
“They’re very similar,” Rivers said. “He’s not Kevin Garnett, all right. Don’t write it, anybody, all right, but they’re the same body type. At the same time in their lives, (Johnson’s) probably a better shooter. Kevin became a great shooter, so there’s a lot of upside things with (Johnson).”
He’ll have an outstanding but demanding mentor in Garnett.
“Kevin’s a great teacher, actually the best teacher that I’ve ever coached by far,” Rivers said. “But if you don’t listen the first time, he’ll never teach you again. That’s just how he works.”
Ainge said on Wednesday that he didn’t expect much help from the draft in the coming season, but was hopeful the players he picked could play some role as rookies. That may still be the case now that the players have been chosen.
“Yesterday we didn’t think (Johnson) would be there and he slipped to us,” Rivers said. “I can’t tell you if he’s going to help or not. I think he’ll be an NBA player and a good one. It may take him some time and it may not.”
Johnson is the first player from Purdue chosen in the first round since Glenn Robinson was the first overall pick in 1994.
Rivers’ son, Jeremiah, played for Indiana several times against Purdue last season.
“The last time he actually said, ‘man, that kid can really play,’ but I didn’t project later on he’d be on my team,” Rivers said.
Purdue coach Matt Painter said, “This is a great day for him and his family, and it’s the beginning of a great career. He’s a relentless worker who will do a great job of getting himself ready to play.”
Moore averaged 18 points a game as a senior and 15.3 in his career.
“They’re mature kids and that can be a benefit,” Ainge said. “They’re a good fit for us.”
Rivers said the Celtics weren’t interested in keeping the 6-foot-5 Brooks, who set a single-game Big East record with 52 points against ninth-ranked Notre Dame. He made 20 of 28 field-goal attempts in that game, and was second in the nation with 24.6 points per game.
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