The 2016 NBA Draft was primarily a spread for incredible wing players. As Ben Simmons (Sixers) and Brandon Ingram (Lakers) grazed the top-two selections, Boston Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown was next on the list.
Boston selected Brown third-overall last summer, in an effort to provide more depth at the small forward position, and fair enough to say, it was pretty awkward. Some hinted he was selected too-high, with concerns on what he would bring offensively, but easily disremember some of his capabilities at the University of California. Brown only averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per-game during his freshman season, but there was more to his draft stock than the numbers.
Boston noticed that Brown was way ahead of the curve as far as athleticsm goes. With his NBA-ready body, as well as his ability to play multiple positions, there wasn’t much left to convince Danny Ainge.
2016-17 SEASON: 6.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks; 44% field-goal, 34% three-point field-goal, 69.9% free-throw, 49% Effective field-goal. (56 games, 15 starts)
- Per 100 possessions: 18.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.8 blocks.
- 53% True Shooting Percentage.
- 18.1 Usage Rating.
To believe that this is all being done in just 16.1 minutes per game is astonishing. Brown is living up to the potential that the third-overall pick normally brings. The most intriguing part of his growth is his sustainably from the three-point line. Brown shot just 29% on 30-102 attempts at the collegiate level, and is already 27-79 at the proffesional level.
It all began against the Cleveland Cavaliers, where not only did Brown have his first game of scoring in double-figures (19), but also tallied a solid line of five rebounds (three offensive), two assists and three steals. He shot 8-16 from the field, and was 3-4 on threes, as the Celtics ultimately lost in Cleveland, 122-128.
Since then, Brown has had twelve games while scoring double-figures. As the season’s went on, he’s developed great trust from Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, as he told reporters back in mid-December, via masslive.com:
“I think it’s important that everybody gets to the point where they can provide those late-game rotation minutes,” Stevens said. “I’ve been really encouraged by Jaylen’s play the last four games. Like anybody else his age, there’s going to be moments of good and bad. He comes to work everyday, he’s trying to get better and we’ve talked about it before — that body is important in this league, to be able to defend, to be able to rebound, to be able to create an advantage on offense. And we saw when Jae (Crowder) was out, that’s why Jaylen’s continued improvement is critical.”
Thus, the 20-year old rookie continues to impress. In his last-three games, Brown is averaging 13.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals, on 59% shooting from the field and a scorching-hot 60% from three.
However, Boston isn’t quite invested into giving Brown a larger role just yet — and for two obvious reasons.
For one, Avery Bradley (returned after missing 22 consecutive games due to an Achillies injury; logged fifteen minutes in Monday’s loss against Atlanta) Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson are more experienced, as well as more comfortable with their games than Brown is. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Brown won’t be there one day, but it’s important to be patient with his development.
Second, Boston is currently too-competitive of a franchise to try any experiments this season. If they were to not meet proper expectations before this summer, next season would be a more ideal time to test Jaylen, potentially as a starter.
Overall, I’m truly sold on what Brown can be once he finds a consistent role. He’s been shuffled between the small forward, shooting guard and the power forward positions. And once Boston’s starters are fully-healthy, I expect him to remain as a quality rotational piece. He’s already proven why.