The 2018-19 NBA season for the Boston Celtics was disheartening. The same can be said for the lack of development by Jaylen Brown. After a promising sophomore stint from the California product, his third year in the pros saw his counting stats take a dip across the board. Brown was relegated to a bench role by midseason, a tough pill to swallow for someone who starred in the 2018 playoffs the year prior.
But a credit to Brown’s work ethic and mental fortitude, he has bounced back beautifully following an underwhelming third season. The 23-year-old has blossomed into an upper-echelon offensive threat and has future all-star written all over him. His newfound ability to make plays in isolation and off the dribble is largely responsible for his meteoric ascension into stardom.
The play above demonstrates the addition of the pull up triple to Brown’s now extensive scoring repertoire. His ability to execute this sequence accentuates his maturation as both a ball-handler and a decision-maker. As a neophyte in the league, ball control was a glaring weakness of his. Brown accumulated more turnovers (192) than assists (178) during his first two seasons in the league. His carelessness with the rock stemmed from his irksome tendency to force the ball to the rim, even when there was no driving lane in sight.
In this play, Jaylen Brown calmly and smoothly dribbles his way up the length of the floor after coming up with the steal. Right before approaching the left-wing, he locates Jarrett Allen, who is defending him in this snippet. Due to Brown’s explosiveness, Allen sags a few feet back in order to prevent the blow by off the dribble. Brown recognizes this in a split second and proceeds to set his feet and rise up over the top of his defender. Allen provides a decent contest, but he gives too much room for Brown to let loose, and he burys the step in trey.
Brown’s capability to fire from deep off the bounce is overwhelming evidence that the game has slowed down for him. He is reading the defense before deciding whether to pass, shoot, or dribble. Rather than trudging his way to the cup, he intelligently took the shot that the defense gave him. Brown’s adept basketball IQ has been on display all season long, and it has paid dividends on the offensive end.
Jaylen Brown has enjoyed far and away the most efficient season of his career in 2019-20. He is averaging 20.4 points per game and is connecting on 49 percent of his field goals, along with 38.1 percent of his treys. Also, Brown ranks in the 76th percentile in points per shot attempt according to Cleaning the Glass, which is a career-best. Part of the reason behind his scorching accuracy this year can be attributed to his superb mid-range game. He is converting on an astounding 50 percent of his looks 10-16 feet from the basket. Arguably just as impressive is only 44 percent of said hoops came off of assists, meaning Brown is creating his own shot in the majority of these instances.
This clip gives insight into how Jaylen Brown has cemented himself among the league’s elite mid-range scorers. He is matched up against DeMarre Carroll, a 10-year veteran who has made a living off of being an irritant on defense. Carroll uses his strength and positioning to keep Brown from going baseline. But, Jaylen then utilizes a nifty change of speed move to create just a minute amount of space, and from there he darts to free-throw territory. Carroll stays on Brown’s shooting hand when he releases the ball in the proximity of the charity stripe. His effort is futile though, as Jaylen elevates just enough so that he can release the ball without getting rejected, and it splashes through the net. Brown’s blistering quickness combined with the elevation he gets on his jumpers makes him a nightmare of a cover inside the arc.
Brown is poles apart from the player he was just one year ago. The difference in his confidence and offensive versatility is night and day. The four-year, $115 million contract that the Celtics signed him to in October was initially perceived as an overpay. Now, it is evident that Brown is worth every penny.