Jaylen Brown Ready to Step Up for the Boston Celtics

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With how disappointing the 2018-2019 season was, the start of the 2019-2020 season could not be going much better for the Boston Celtics.  Through the first nine games of the season, they have returned to the type of team we are used to seeing under Brad Stevens; hard-working, no-nonsense, and fun to watch.

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The energy is up.  The ball is moving.  Guys seem to be genuinely happy on and off the court.  Sharing the ball hasn’t been an issue, and in the few games where things have been going poorly, they stuck together and turned it around.  With everything going so well for this team, of course last Saturday night had to happen.

And, of course, it had to be Gordon Hayward.  Fans have been waiting to the see this version of Hayward for almost two years.  He went on streaks like this last season, but this year felt different.  He just looked more comfortable and was, in turn, more aggressive.  While Hayward's 6-week timeline leaves the door open for a return before the end of the year, I bet we won't see Hayward again until 2020.

Now, Jaylen Brown will get his chance.  Brown felt like the forgotten child coming into the season.  Most of the talk around the Celtics this offseason was about how Kemba Walker would fit in, how Jayson Tatum would bounce back after a down year, and if Hayward would ever return to the player he was in Utah.

Not many mentioned Brown, but Brown can be just as valuable as some of the other key pieces.  Brown was a top-3 pick along with Tatum, but wasn’t afforded the same opportunities that Tatum was in his rookie season. 

Tatum averaged over 30 minutes per game in his rookie season, compared to Brown's 17.  That gave Tatum an opportunity to mature, and develop quickly.  When Brown's minutes per game rose to 30 in his second season, his PPG jumped from 6.6 to 14.5. 

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Tatum may have a higher ceiling than Brown, but Brown's ceiling is still pretty high.  Towards the tail end of last year, you could make the case that he was Boston’s best player.  He's also the best two-way player on the roster.  Marcus Smart is Boston's best individual defender, hands down; but when you look at offense and defense, Brown is more complete. 

He’s eager to show people how much he has improved, and what he’s been working on over the summer.  Though it’s only been six games, it appears what Brown was working on was attacking the basket more.

More than half of his shot attempts have come within 10 feet of the basket.  In his previous three seasons, that number was less than 50%.  He looks more confident when driving to the basket.  He’s attacking without hesitation; just putting the ball on the floor and going.  His finishing around the rim has definitely improved.  

By attacking more often, Brown has also got himself to the free throw line.  He's second to only Kemba Walker in free throw attempts per game among Celtics, and he has got to the charity stripe 27 times in the past four games.  He’s currently shooting better than 77% from the line, which is much better than 66% he was shooting for his young career.

He is also shooting three pointers less frequently than in previous seasons; a main reason he is currently shooting better than 53% from the field.  That percentage is markedly better than the 46% he has shot through the first three years of his career.  

Again, it is a very small sample size, but this looks like a much improved Brown.  In the last two games - one without Hayward, and one where he left early - Brown has recorded 55 points, 18 rebounds and has made 14 of 17 free throws.

For some reason, there seems to be a faction of Celtics fans who don’t think Brown is very good.  Maybe it's because they weren't thrilled with the selection back in 2016, and in his rookie year, he didn't perform like a third-overall pick.  Maybe it's because Boston sports fans are just miserable and nothing is ever good enough for them.

He got his contract.  I happen to like the signing.  You can say what you want about the dollar amount, and I won’t necessarily disagree with you, but that is the nature of contracts in the NBA.  With Hayward out, this is his chance to change people's opinions.


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Boston Sports Syndicate: Jaylen Brown Ready to Step Up for the Boston Celtics
Jaylen Brown Ready to Step Up for the Boston Celtics
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