The Golden State Warriors may have won the NBA title, but Jaylen Brown and the Boston Celtics are certainly not going home without anything to show for their trip to the NBA Finals.
The “L” in the loss might as well stand for learnings, especially from all those moments the Warriors struck early and fought back from their own setbacks in the championship series. Golden State took every punch Brown and the Celtics threw like the championship team they were and flipped the series in their favor after a rocky first three games.
Losing the way they did certainly sucks but Brown and many of those on Boston’s roster are under 30 years old, meaning if they play their cards right, a return trip to the NBA Finals won’t be a mere goal on a whiteboard.
Amid trade rumors that intensified with every disappointing playoff exit, Brown has instead turned his attention to what he could control, which was his play on the court. The Marietta, Georgia native has made steady improvements to his game over the years and these refinements were on display during the Celtics’ run to the NBA Finals.
The shot making is one of the obvious signs as both Brown’s efficiency and repertoire have evolved. Creating scoring opportunities aren’t limited to catch-and-shot or easy baskets off the drop pass; the 2021 NBA All-Star can take over and score on all three levels.
Brown was knocked for his sub-par shooting in his lone season with the California Golden Bears back in college and his field goal and 3-point shooting percentages have never gone below 45.4 percent and 34.1 percent, respectively. The latter is a welcome sign, especially as his attempts have gone from 1.7 attempts per game in his rookie year to 7.0 in 2021-2022.
In the postseason, Brown has come a long way to reach career shooting splits of 47.4/36.4/75.8 as his usage has increased. The maturity in his game regardless of whether it was the regular season or the playoffs is a great sign and the last few seasons provide indications that despite the similarities to their games, he and Jayson Tatum can coexist with one another.
That the third overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft also averaged a career-high 3.5 assists per game in both the regular and postseason also points to how he can create for others and not just himself. Of course, his scoring abilities draws the defense to him and allows for openings for his teammates, but Brown has slowly but surely capitalized on this.
Game 6 of the NBA Finals was arguably the best game of his postseason career. In a fight-or-flight situation, Brown certainly went down swinging as his game-high 34 points made Boston fans look on with bated breath in the hopes of a miraculous turnaround.
Along with these refinements and welcome signs, though, come areas to improve on. Brown has had a tendency to over dribble in the course of a possession, which at times can be frustrating. This leads to turnovers and douses any momentum the Celtics may have generated. When opposing teams create points off these errors, it only adds to Boston’s woes.
Polishing is perhaps the main agenda for the offseason, with game tape of last season readily available for review. Being able to do more with less can prove to be effective, especially when more games are to be played and multiple championship aspirations are to be achieved.
While it wasn’t a major issue in the 2022 NBA Playoffs, Brown’s health will be something to keep watch on. Playing until June can lead to wear and tear and another long postseason run may require him to pace himself. The 25-year old has dealt with a handful of leg injuries in 2021-2022, which can be tricky to recover from and manage moving forward.
Jaylen Brown will be reeling from the NBA Finals loss especially since he and the Boston Celtics were two wins away from clinching the championship. As stinging as that may be, it’s not what they went through that will largely matter but rather, how they turn it into a positive that can help lead to a better outcome in the next season.