For years, it looked like the Boston Celtics made a mistake on Jaylen Brown. They shockingly selected him third overall in the 2016 NBA Draft, a couple of spots higher where he was expected to go, and he didn’t produce right away.
To be fair, he continuously got pushed aside for others. First, he was a rookie earning his stripes in the second unit, then, in his second year, came a more heralded youngster in Jayson Tatum, who shared his position, as well as veteran All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. All in all, it wasn’t until last season (his fourth year), where he finally got that true break. From that point on, he’s continued the progression.
Brown finished his 2019-20 campaign averaging 20.3 points per game on 48.1% percent shooting. Though the Celtics eventually bowed out, he looked better in the latter parts of the playoffs, putting up 24.2 PPG over their last nine postseason games.
The development visibly spiked this season, especially with Kemba Walker sidelined through the first 11 games and returning with an iffy knee, and Tatum missing five games due to COVID-19.
From the body language and all, it’s obvious that he’s more confident and trusting of his overall decision-making, be it on shot creation, movement without the ball, facilitating his teammates, etc.
After 18 games, Brown’s massive breakout currently have him posting a team-high 27.1 points and shooting an efficient 44.3% from three, 56% from mid-range, and 53.1% overall, all that while also collecting 5.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.4 steals. He actually leads Boston in total points, field goals made, threes made, and free throws made, and is second in boards, dimes, and steals.
While garnering such team-leading numbers is mostly because Tatum was out of the picture for little while, it doesn’t negate the fact that he has made a significant jump in his play and impact. It’s beyond him having more opportunities. He’s simply way better now.
To put things in an even better context, Brown is seventh in the league in points per game, ninth in PER (Player Efficiency Rating), and 13th in win shares. With any more improvement, he’s going to start qualifying as an MVP candidate.
Check out one of his finest performances thus far, where he notched 42 points in just 29 minutes of action.
Second fiddle no more?
For now, Tatum is still the marquee guy in Boston, but make no mistake about it: it’s getting close by the day. Don’t be shocked that at how possibly close it is late in the season, especially come playoff time.
It will be really exciting to see this unfold. You don’t need to be a Celtics fan to get pumped for a pair of high-scoring, sweet-shooting, two-way wingmen balling together.
Next on the Celtics’ schedule are the Golden State Warriors. They’ll pay them a visit this Wednesday, February 3rd, at 11:00 AM, Manila time.