Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is a smart dude. The same can be said of head coach Brad Stevens. However, two smart dudes alone don’t make a team.
Gordon Hayward was a great free agent signing and it’s beyond unfortunate that he succumbed to a gruesome ankle injury in the first game of the season. It goes without saying that we all hope for Hayward to be back on the court again soon.
Kyrie Irving is a top-5 point guard, proven game closer and NBA champion. That dude carried LeBron James when LeBron couldn’t carry himself. The Celtics brass were smart to make a move to get Kyrie. Maybe now we can value him for who he really is on the court, outside of LeBron’s shadow.
There’s also Jayson Tatum, the promising rookie draft pick that’s been thrust into an immediate role following the loss of Gordon Hayward. The Celtics did a smart thing by flipping the number one draft pick to the 76ers and winging back to get Tatum.
That said, no player on the Celtics roster (or in the league for that matter) has more upside than diamond-in-the-rough small forward Jaylen Brown. Brown was the third overall pick out of Cal in the 2016 draft. It seems that scouts paid partial attention to him despite his All-Pac-12 honors. However, the Celtics wasted little time in pouncing on Brown the first chance they got. Also unique to this situation is that Brown, often described as an introvert and scholar, represented himself without hiring an agent. This doesn’t sound so far-fetched for an athlete that studies languages in his spare time and plays chess.
Let’s get one thing clear from the get-go; Jaylen Brown is the real deal. Need a pull-up jumper from anywhere in the paint? Give it to Brown. How about a three pointer from the corner? Find Brown. Want to see someone get acrobatically posterized above the rim? Brown. Need a shot blocked? Brown’s got it! Need to slow down the opponent’s best player? Give the assignment to Brown. Okay, what if that player is LeBron James? Yep, go ahead, give the assignment to Brown. Heck, if the United Parcel Service were serious about their own marketing campaign, then they’d make Jaylen their pitchman because at the end of the day, Brown delivers.
If you were cognizant enough to see past the topical smack down that the Cleveland Cavaliers put on the Boston Celtics in the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals, then you probably saw some telling details in disguise. The first one being that Jaylen Brown guarded LeBron almost constantly and made him appear very uncomfortable at times. Maybe you also noticed that Jaylen Brown served as the team rally when the Celtics needed to make a run. Brown delivered key buckets, steals and rebounds during the comeback games. For all intents and purposes, Brown was like the Forrest Gump of the conference series. If there was something happening, then the 6’7″ 225-pounder was in on the action. This shouldn’t come as a surprise being that Brown made the NBA All-Rookie Second Team at season’s end.
We often make the mistake of comparing current players to basketball greats. However, if we took the Wahl clippers to Jaylen Brown’s immaculate high-top fade (kid’s got style by the way!), one might mistake him for a young Michael Jordan or mini-Kobe Bryant from a distance. Perhaps more Kobe Bryant being that they both have the scholarly-language-thing going on. To be clear, Brown’s game may not be as polished as either Michael or Kobe just yet, but what he lacks in finesse, his athleticism makes up for. What Brown does possess at the moment is good decision making and killer instinct. Like Michael, Kobe and Steph, Brown wants the ball in his hands when the game is on the line, and even if he disappoints, the sophomore small forward goes down trying.
The 2017-2018 NBA season is still young, but all signs look promising thus far for the subtly talented Jaylen Brown. While most of the league’s stars are approaching the wrong side of thirty and creating ‘Super Teams’ to remain relevant, we’re pushing all of our chips to the middle of the table and betting that Jaylen Brown will be the next big thing. In fact, he already is.