Rivers: Tougher for young guys to earn spot

Chris Forsberg/ESPNBoston.com

Celtics rookies JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore at their introductory pWALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers is aware of the grumbles about his lack of utilizing younger players in recent seasons. He wonders where those complaints were during his early -- and far less successful -- years in Boston.

"People forget that I had three years where I only played young guys," said Rivers. "It’s probably tougher for the young guys to get into my rotation [now] because the guys in front of them are better. Really. With Ray Allen -- should we not play him? Or should we not play Paul [Pierce] or Kevin [Garnett]? So it’s more of that than anything. It’s whoever is earning it is going to play."

Younger players have struggled to get consistent minutes outside of trash-time situations during the Big Three era. Whether it's Bill Walker and J.R Giddens, or JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore, some have wondered if recent picks are getting a fair chance to develop with such limited game reps.

Rivers suggested the solution is simple: Younger players need to separate themselves -- somehow, some way -- and prove they deserve to be on the floor ahead of a veteran.

A condensed schedule this season could potentially open doors for younger players, but Rivers continues to stress that he'll play anyone -- regardless of age -- so long as they prove capable of handling the workload. Second-year guard Avery Bradley took advantage of Ray Allen's absence Wednesday night and is starting to make a case for more time with his inspired defensive play.

"We went into this year wanting [a] 10[-man rotation]," said Rivers. "Whether the lockout or not, one of the things after [last] year I told [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] was, 'We gotta build a 10-man rotation.' And we’re going to do that. That was important."