- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics have preached a focus on getting younger and more athletic this offseason and started that process Thursday by adding Purdue power forward JaJuan Johnson with the team's first-round selection in the NBA draft.
The Celtics originally held pick No. 25, but worked a draft-day deal with the New Jersey Nets, acquiring a 2014 second-round pick to move down two spots, where New Jersey grabbed Johnson for Boston. The Celtics chose Providence's Marshon Brooks at No. 25 for New Jersey as part of the deal.
The Celtics added a second Purdue product, shooting guard E'Twaun Moore, with their second-round pick (No. 55 overall).
"Two really good, productive college players," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said. "Mature kids, great character and attitude. We got some shooting, we got some length, and I think they're a good fit for us."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted the team had honed in on three players in the first round: Johnson, Boston College's Reggie Jackson and Marquette's Jimmy Butler. When Jackson got hooked by the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 24, the Celtics elected to move down, but were pleased to see Johnson available at that point.
"I like it," Rivers said. "Big 10 Player of the Year, athletic, can shoot -- I like it a lot. We didn't think he'd be there and he was.
"[Johnson can] pick-and-pop, he's a terrific shooter for his size and [is] extremely athletic. Obviously, he rebounded well in college which you hope translates over. But we've proven we can get bigs shots and, so we can get him shots and he'll make them. The defensive part, he comes from a great program, he's a high-character kid, and at [No. 27], that's what you hope for."
Johnson averaged 20.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game as a senior. A 6-foot-10 power forward, he will draw comparisons to Kevin Garnett, though Rivers cautioned against that.
"They're very similar -- he's not Kevin Garnett -- don't write it anybody," Rivers joked. "But they are [similar]. Same body type. At the same time in their lives, he's probably a better shooter, and Kevin became a great shooter. So there's a lot of upside things with him."
Added Ainge: "We think [Johnson is] a both-ends-of-the-court player. He can shoot, he can rebound, block shots. He's got some good energy and good length. I think that he fits a lot of parts that we need."
Rivers said the team never entertained the idea of keeping Brooks, the volume scorer with local ties coming out of Providence. Once the Celtics were assured the Dallas Mavericks wouldn't draft Johnson at No. 26, the team elected to move down to add an asset with the future second-round pick.
"We tried to do a lot of things," Rivers said. "I think everyone's projecting next year's draft to be a tremendous draft, and we're still working to see if we can get more picks there. But he was one of the guys we had on the board that if he was around we wanted that guy."
Ainge thinks both players can compete for roles with the Celtics next season.
"E'Twaun is a good shooter, a good all-around player, tough kid, good experience," Ainge said. "He had a big game this year, I saw the game [when] he had 38 against Ohio State. Terrific talent. And then, JaJuan, he has good length, he's a good all-around player. He's light in the hips, but he's long and he's athletic, and he can score. So I think that both of those guys can probably fit on our team."
Ainge said there was no connection in selecting two Purdue players and didn't even notice the coincidence until after he submitted the second-round pick.
"They were the best guys on the board for us when we were drafting," Ainge said. "I didn't even realize that we were picking two kids from Purdue until, actually, Doc was on the phone with JaJuan, and just heard that we drafted E'Twaun and I think that made him more excited than the fact that he was drafted. That was just a pure coincidence."
The Celtics plan to introduce their rookies to the media on Monday afternoon at the team's practice facility in Waltham.
Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.
1dMarc Stein and Ramona Shelburne