What a more fitting way to kick off this blog than to keep writing where I left off in April at the great Purdue University?
Last night was surprising for two reasons:
I watched almost the entire NBA Draft (but also fit in some Sex & the City and How Do I Look? – Let’s call it a wash).
My two favorite Boilermakers will continue to be teammates when they both call Boston home whenever the NBA decides to start playing games again.
I’m not the NBA’s biggest fan. I was a big Bulls fan as a kid when MJ and Scottie were still kickin’ it, but really until the DRose-fueled resurgence this year, I haven’t given two thoughts to the NBA. I tend to think that the college game has a lot more integrity in terms of how the game is played (definitely not in terms of NCAA compliance). I suppose my last year at Purdue changed why I was so interested in this draft.
Last year, I had the great pleasure of following around JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore and the Boilermakers as the beat reporter for the school paper, the Exponent. It was easily one of the best experiences of my life to date, and the guys were all just genuinely good guys. That’s the main reason for my interest in last night’s draft.
Johnson was picked 27th overall by the New Jersey Nets, but a proposed trade sent him to the Celts almost immediately. He was the first Boilermaker selected in the first round since Glenn Robinson was the first overall pick in the 1994 draft. Johnson was also the first Purdue consensus All-American since Robinson, so they’ve got plenty in common.
I was holding my breath on Moore for most of the second round. He was on the top of Jay Bilas’ best available list for quite awhile. He was finally selected 55th by Boston, which marked the first time since 1988 that two Purdue players were picked in the same draft. Then, it was Everette Stephens and Todd Mitchell. I could make all sorts of symmetry jokes for anyone who would get them, but if you have to work hard to explain it, it’s probably not worth it.
So what do we know about these two as they ship up to Boston (why, terrible jokes, why?!)?:
Johnson has a knack for improving his game by leaps and bounds every year. He may appear scrawny now, but that was nothing compared to the 196 lbs he was as a freshman. He’s since gained 25-30 lbs, a whole lot of strength and some skills that most 6-10 bigs don’t have. He scores from the inside out, can block, rebound and run. He’s also a great attitude guy. If he can put on more weight he can play C, but will likely be more of a PF.
Johnson was named Big Ten Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.
Moore led Purdue in scoring during his first three years. He’s athletic and can score, but his development has been all-around. Former coach Matt Painter likes to say that he came to Purdue as a great scorer but left as a great player. He’ll likely play the point in the League (backing up Rondo, of course), but is a natural 2-guard.
Moore was all-Big Ten during each of his seasons in West Lafayette. He was also the fourth player in Big Ten history to record 2,000 points, 500 rebounds and 350 assists.
Johnson and Moore are tied for the school record for all-time wins (107), games played (140) and consecutive games played (140).
Overall, Boston gets two guys with a lot of upside. Johnson will likely have more of an impact immediately; Moore will benefit from a year or two of NBA development. Both have the benefit of heading to a great franchise and will continue to be the Dynamic Duo (formerly of the fearsome foursome of Baby Boilers and the Big Three before Robbie Hummel got hurt). (If you click that Big Three link, you might get the abandoned symmetry joke I alluded to earlier.)
When I was younger, I used to have to read the Bible to my grandmother and grandfather all the time, and that was their favorite scripture. It was like, always remember the scripture. If youre down, and you want to pray or whatever, read the scripture. Thats why I got the tattoo on the side. Its my favorite verse also. You know, when times get hard, I feel like, through the pain, after all the efforts I put forward, that verse protects me from anything evil.
I appreciate that he is able to bring evil into that one too.
Kevin Garnett Among KG’s tattoos is the text: “Only God can Judge me. Rest in Peace MS2” on his forearm. The text is a tribute combining the initials and jersey number of his Timberwolves teammate Malik Sealy who was killed by a drunk driver in 2000. Former teammate Joe Smith has the same tribute tattooed on his arm.
Jermaine O'Neal O'Neal’s right shoulder features a muscular figure surrounded by the text “Year of the Resurrection.” Asked about the tattoo in 2011, O'Neal couldn’t remember when or where he got it, stressing instead that the tattoo isn’t fixed to one year, but constantly refreshes: “It better be this year… I look at it like every year has been a resurrection year – being challenged, being knocked down and getting back up – but I’ve had a lot of trials and tribulations this year.”
Paul Pierce In September 2000, just before Pierce’s third year as a pro, he was stabbed 11 times at a nightclub in Boston. Several years later, he had a basketball with a dagger through it tattooed on his arm. As described by Pierce to the website Vegas Deluxe, “It represents how close I came to losing my life. Basketball is my gift and my curse. Obviously there are all the good things that come from playing basketball, but you also have to deal with all the negative things that come with being a basketball player.”
Tattoo percentage: 43% (6 players with tattoos, 8 without)
The Bulls saw a slight decrease in their tattoo percentage from last year.
Players with tattoos:
Aaron Brooks During the 2011 NBA lockout, Brooks played in China. During this time he posted a photo of himself to the Chinese social media site Weibo in which he’s adding to the tattoos on his right arm. The photo also shows the design tattooed over his heart.
Derrick Rose Rose has a tattoo of Malcolm X on his left calf. In December of 2014, Rose was the first player to wear an “I CAN’T BREATHE” shirt in the aftermath of Eric Garner’s death. As reported by Jon Greenberg at the time, Rose was asked if there was a socially conscious athlete he looked up to as a child. Rose responded: “I wouldn’t say an athlete, I would say someone like Malcolm X, someone I
looked up to when I was younger… Being so close, him from
being from Detroit, my mom paying attention to it, my grandmother always
talking about it.”
Finding out that the Celtics took JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore in the draft earlier made me very happy and ecstatic today. Both are hard working people staying all four years in college has made them very mature and since both have been playing together since they were 12, their chemistry will mesh nicely together with the C’s. JaJuan has tons of potential. He’s the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the year and is compared to his new teammate KG. Both lanky but strong, KG is going to mentor this young man to become a great player and I believe he will be in the future. He gives us size in the paint and a athletic man in the rotation. E'Twaun to me is very underrated. He is a great defender and has pretty good size as 6'5. He is also a very good shooter from beyond the arc and Ray Allen should be a good teacher for him. Both will excel with Doc Rivers and will get good playing time in the rotation this season.
Perhaps I abused my press pass by taking ~illegal camera phone photos. What? I’m a senior, too, Cory Walton.
The only time I hate being short are moments like these when all the 6-foot camera guys from Indy news jostle my petite self out the way like I’m a child. And then I don’t get seriously great pictures. Not bad, considering height and cell phone.
These guys are just absolutely fantastic. Nothing more I can say. I’ve said it all before. RIGHT HERE.