- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- In the days leading up to last week's NBA draft, Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge tempered expectations by emphasizing the difficulty of finding impact players in the slots where the Celtics were slated to pick.
The team's Twitter feed hammered that point home with a draft-night tweet that reminded fans: "The C's have the #55 pick in the 2nd round tonight; they took Kris Clack from Texas at #55 in 1999."
Clack, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, never signed with the Celtics and never stepped foot on an NBA court. If finding a contributor is difficult at No. 25, which was Boston's position in the first round, finding a player who will simply stick on the roster at No. 55 can be even more daunting.
E'Twaun Moore knows this. While much has been made about the Celtics' drafting two players from the same college (Purdue) and how having each other around should make the transition to the NBA easier for both, there's no guarantee Moore will even make the roster.
That's why he chose uniform No. 55. It will serve as a constant reminder of the uphill battle he's facing to prove he deserves a shot with the Celtics. Boston's lack of signed players and Moore's intriguing skill set seem to bode well for his chances, but he knows he must prove himself.
In 2010, the Celtics selected power forward Luke Harangody at No. 52. A four-year standout at Notre Dame, Harangody pretty much earned his rookie deal with a strong performance with the Celtics' summer league team in Orlando, Fla.
Moore won't have that opportunity. With a lockout looming Friday, he -- like all of this year's draft picks -- will endure a summer (and fall?) in limbo while waiting for NBA owners and players to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement.
Even when a new CBA is achieved and the offseason begins, Moore will have to hope the Celtics are enticed more by what he has shown than what's available on the free-agent market.
If first impressions count for anything, Moore shouldn't spend too much time worrying this summer. Celtics brass raved about Moore's character and how he carries himself, and that was impossible to miss as the team introduced its rookies Monday at a community event in Brighton. First-round pick JaJuan Johnson raved about Moore's leadership and what he meant to the Boilermakers during their four seasons together.
Here's the thing: Like Clack, Moore is an undersized (6-4) shooting guard. The mission for such players is generally pretty simple: You make shots, you stay; you miss shots, you're gone. But Moore also can handle the ball, which could add to his value as a depth guard, particularly if the team is unable to re-sign veteran combo guard Delonte West.
"Wherever they need me to play, if it's the point guard [or] shooting guard position, I'll just be ready," Moore said.
Ainge has raved about the big-game experience Moore and Johnson have, and Boston's general manager was watching when Moore went off for 38 points in a February upset of third-ranked Ohio State in West Lafayette, Ind.
Moore connected on 13 of 18 attempts that night, including seven of 10 3-pointers. He added five assists, four rebounds and two assists, then promptly shrugged off the effort, suggesting it was just another game in a four-year college career.
Reflecting Monday, he might have ensured he wasn't passed over in Thursday's draft with that effort.
"The Ohio State game was definitely an important game for our team, as well as me," Moore said. "I think we were tied or came within one game of a Big Ten championship, playing Ohio State, they were ranked really high. I think it definitely helped me a lot when it came to draft time. Teams could see I played well in big games and under pressure."
Over his four seasons at Purdue, Moore increased his scoring average every season, his stats peaking his senior year when he averaged 18 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. He shot 44.7 percent from the field and improved his perimeter game, shooting 40 percent beyond the arc.
"E'Twaun is a good shooter, a good all-around player, tough kid, good experience," Ainge said. "Terrific talent."
The scouting report confirms that Moore is not as quick or athletic as teams might desire, particularly at age 22, but the Celtics have long put a premium on intangibles. He's a gritty player, tough on both ends of the floor, and if he thrives on the big stage, he shouldn't be overwhelmed by joining a veteran-heavy Boston roster.
He might have to scratch and claw a bit to ensure he gets that opportunity, but every time he pulls on that No. 55 jersey, he'll be reminded why he's fighting.
Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.
10hMatt Walks, ESPN.com