Film School: How Jaylen Brown Opens Up The Offense
(photo cred: USA Today)
I know what you are going to ask and no, I will never grow tired of making Jaylen Brown breakdowns. Perhaps this is the best year to cover the Celtics emerging star. Brown is playing his best basketball yet as evident by his improved handle and finishing at the rim. It looks like his 3-point shooting (38 percent) is here to stay as well.
Known for his potential as a high level scorer and defensive menace, Brown was never expected to become a meaningful facilitator. In fact, scouts and fans pegged Brown as the finisher of lobs, not the thrower of them. So when he starts firing one-handed crosscourt passes and alley-oops via pick and rolls, people start to notice.
The numbers may not show it, Brown has helped pick up the playmaking slack since Gordon Hayward's injury. Specifically, the wing is spending more time maneuvering screens before dishing to others. The most promising aspect of this recent trend, however, is Brown's awareness of his own physical gifts. What do I mean?
In this clip versus the Nuggets, Brown draws four defenders to the paint during his drive. It took Jaylen only a season to put the league on notice about his major hops. Defenses fear Brown in transition, even when he not going at full speed. It is the mere threat of a rim attack that leaves Carsen Edwards open for a triple, which he hits.
Athleticism alone does not always translate to success. There have been plenty of top tier prospects with record setting verticals who have flamed out of the league. It finally seems that Brown's IQ and instinct is catching up with his natural abilities. Watch three defenders crowd him before Brown recognizes an open Daniel Theis under the hoop. This is a pass that likely does not get made in seasons past.
This next clip does an excellent job at conveying why Brown's agility is so deadly. Very few defenders can keep pace with him, especially when Jaylen explodes from a near standstill. This is a shot that he used to take. Nowadays, Brown recognizes who the help defense is leaving open and then dishes off to a cutting teammate.
During his rookie campaign, Jaylen was often criticized for what seemed like a lack of feel for the game. This scares scouts. How can someone develop something as vague as feel? Well, Brown found a way. The three videos in this next segment show him passing up a contested shot at the rim for a kickout, slinging a one-handed pass to Kemba Walker in the corner and tossing another to Hayward in transition. I can count on one hand how many passes like that I have seen Brown throw throughout his four seasons.
You may have also noticed a nifty behind the back dribble by Brown in that first clip. This is one skill which still needs further tightening but it would be unjust not to notice the current improvements. Regardless, he needs to continue to make progress in this area. Too often does Brown dribble the ball off of a leg or simply lose control. It results in him missing open men in the corner.
What should we expect for the rest of the season? Hayward should return within a couple of weeks. When he does he will return to his old role as point forward. He thrived there before the hand injury. Do not be shocked if Brad Stevens finds a way to get Brown more time as a secondary playmaker. Putting him next to the underrated Brad Wanamaker would fortify the Celtics playmaking during second units.