Jaylen Brown has soared in his second season in Green.
I once compared Jaylen Brown to Kobe Bryant based off of one move. It was a nondescript crossover that resulted in a bricked 18-footer, but the way he moved really impressed me. His crossover was sharp, his footwork graceful, and the shot looked smooth coming out of his hand. And at that time I realized Jaylen was a special athlete with all of the measurements you could want in a modern wing. I also realized that Jaylen had moves; he just didn’t have handle or a jumper. Now, as he finishes his sophomore season in the league, it is starting to look like Jaylen is the total package.
Strengths: Athleticism, Finishing at the Rim, Individual Defense, Corner 3s
Still Needs to Improve: Team Defense, Court Vision, Pick and Roll Efficiency, Shooting off the Dribble.
Over the last 3 games, Jaylen Brown is shooting 13-22 from distance. This is a very small sample size, but for the season he is shooting a very respectable 39% on over 4 attempts per game, and that is very encouraging for Celtics fans. The biggest question about Jaylen coming in to the league was his jump shot and many were surprised Danny drafted him at #3. It seemed like stretch, but if you could have projected Jaylen’s shooting percentages through his first two years, it would have been a certainty he would have been drafted directly after Simmons and Ingram (one of whom could be the greatest player since Lebron and the other could be a perennial All-Star, so being #3 behind them isn’t a bad thing). Jaylen has been more than impressive with his shooting all season, and when you combine that with his elite potential on defense, the Celtics very well might have hit the jackpot by “reaching” for him at 3.
Who would you rather have for the next 5 years: Jaylen Brown or Andrew Wiggins?
My favorite Jaylen comparison is saying “he is what Andrew Wiggins would be if Wiggins gave a shit about basketball.” Now, I don’t know Andrew Wiggins whatsoever, but every time I have seen him play, and this dates back to college, I always wondered if he had a competitive bone in his body. He’s one of those players who seems to float through games without ever using his elite athleticism, especially on defense where he rates below average. It got to the point where the Timberwolves had to call him in for a face-to-face meeting before offering him his max deal.
Wolves owner Glen Taylor went on record as saying, “If a guy is a real star and he really cares about it, which I think he does, I think it’s a commitment. I’m not sure that he wouldn’t do it anyway. But I think that’s part of the negotiations.” If you have any reservations if a player really wants to be great, then he probably doesn’t want to be great. Greatness has more to do with will than skill, and Wiggins is lacking in will.
Jaylen, on the other hand, has an unlimited motor to complement athleticism that few can match. Not only that, but Jaylen’s shooting is far beyond what Wiggins has accomplished thus far in his career, and this is a big problem in Minnesota because they need him to be able to stretch the floor. This isn’t 1998: shooting guards need to be able to shoot consistently in order to be great, just ask Demar Derozan. Jaylen, however, cannot be left alone in the corner 3, where he is shooting 43%, compared to Wiggins who is at 39% (30% overall). Furthermore, Jaylen knows where his bread is buttered. 97% of his three point attempts are assisted, compared to Wiggins who sits around 84%. Jaylen also shoots 35% of his 3s from this area of strength while Wiggins only shoots 17% of his from there. This tells me two things: Jaylen is a smarter and more coachable player and this should also factor into this debate. (It also tells me Stevens is a better coach than Thibs and the Celtics as a team move the ball better than the Wolves. But just watch 5 minutes of the Wolves play and you’ll see what I’m talking about. They are brutal to watch. Luckily they have Jimmy Butler and Karl Towns).
Jaylen Brown has another level to reach and it is far beyond the Andrew Wiggins level of player. I believe Jaylen could develop into a Kawhi Leonard type of player. He’s that talented and he clearly wants to be great. These playoffs will be huge for his development as he can look to expand his game even further than he had to without Gordon Hayward. I do, however, expect his efficiency to drop off in the playoffs due to increased opportunity and a higher level of defensive preparation, but the truth is that most players struggle in the playoffs (I see you Kyle Lowry). If Jaylen can transcend this postseason trap in just his second season, then Kawhi is the limit for this kid ( yeah I just did that).
Final Grade: A