Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown went from a player who averaged 17 minutes per game in a bench role as a rookie to a starter who served as the No. 1 or No. 2 option on offense as a second-year player in the 2018 NBA playoffs.
It was an impressive leap for Brown — a player fans weren’t too thrilled about after the Celtics drafted him No. 3 overall in 2016.
Brown has received great coaching and teaching from the Celtics’ staff, but he’s also been mentored by Detroit Pistons legend Isiah Thomas, who recently shared his thoughts on Brown’s on and off-court success in a recent interview with The Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett.
“I thought he had a great second year, and not only did he improve offensively, but he still kept improving defensively,” Thomas told Bulpett.
“He came into the league and he made his mark on the defensive side, and then last summer it was, ‘OK, we’ve got to make you a better 3-point shooter. You’ve got to be able to knock down the 3, and you’ve got to be able to do certain things in coach (Brad) Stevens’ offense that he wants you to do.’ I thought in the playoffs he was exceptionally good.
What’s the next step in Brown’s development? It’s a skill Thomas displayed at an elite level during his Hall of Fame career.
“Now the second phase is he’s got to become a better ballhandler. He’s got to be able to take his man off the dribble,” Thomas said. “So he’s spending a little time with Tracy McGrady. He’s going to spend some time with myself. Now he’s going to get his dribble moves down, and he’s got to come back a better basketball player on the dribbling side. And then we’ve got to get him better at the foul line.”
Brown ranked second on the Celtics last season with 14.5 points per game during the regular season and 18 points per game during the playoffs. He has tremendous athleticism, and with improved ball-handling he should be able to blow by defenders and attack the rim.
Even with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward returning to the Celtics’ starting lineup in 2018-19, Brown should still remain in the starting five and continue to thrive. He’s not afraid to work hard to improve his game, and that was evident last summer when he worked a lot on his 3-point shooting and became a legitimate threat from deep for the C’s during the 2017-18 campaign.
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