When Jaylen Brown was taken third overall by the Boston Celtics in last year’s NBA Draft over fellow wings Kris Dunn and Buddy Hield, both of whom had far more successful college careers than Brown in his one year in college, many NBA pundits felt that Celtics general manager Danny Ainge was crazy to make such a reach. But, clearly, Ainge saw something in the young man from the Cal Golden Bears that sparked his interest and made him think that he could be a superstar for Boston.
Brown stood out during the pre-draft process, impressing scouts and executives with his scholarly, intellectual nature and incredibly mature demeanor for a 19-year-old. He also opted to go through that process without an agent, something unprecedented for a young player such as himself. There were even rumors that some scouts felt that Brown was too smart to play in the NBA. Whatever the heck that means is up for debate, but it speaks volumes on Brown’s maturity. And it clearly pushed Ainge to give him a shot.
Brown has not experienced the rookie season befitting of a third overall pick. Of course, part of the reason why is that he was drafted to play for a really good team who just happened to have a high draft pick because of a trade from a trade several years back. But Brown has been underutilized nonetheless. And now that the Celtics find themselves in a hotly contested series against a tough defensive team such as the Chicago Bulls, the athletic Brown should be given a chance.
Brown has played in only 22 minutes of action thus far this series, and that is almost an insult to his talent. The top wing off of the bench for the Celtics in this series has been Gerald Green of dunk fame. At 31 years old, Green is past his prime and can only contribute so much. His offensive game isn’t nearly as broad-based as Brown’s.
An energized offensive weapon who can wreak havoc in the lane, Brown plays well beyond his 6’7” frame and showcased at Cal his ability to take over games with his elite dribble-drive ability. Quite frankly, he’s arguably the most athletic player on the Celtics’ roster and one who could certainly prove to be a weapon in this postseason for them.
One of the few issues facing the Celtics (and one that showcased itself early on in the Bulls series) is their lack of quality scorers off of the bench. Therefore, when Boston’s starting backcourt isn’t hitting shots or is being limited by heavy defense, the offense becomes somewhat placid. And Brown could be the solution for that. The other top-tier Eastern Conference teams all boast far more athleticism overall than the Celtics, indicating that Thomas might be forced to shoulder even more of the load than he already does.
Brown could help to amend that situation if given the opportunity to contribute. No, he’s never experienced his type of pressure-packed gameplay before, but this current Celtics team didn’t come to fruition without plenty of risks being taken along the way. Now, Brad Stevens and his staff need to take one more risk that could pay significant dividends by allowing Jaylen Brown the opportunity to shine on the biggest of stages. Because he just might be the X factor that propels the Celtics to the playoffs.