BOSTON — Perhaps no one summed up Boston Celtics wing Jaylen Brown’s performance against the Sacramento Kings better than Brad Stevens post-game.
Certainly no one summed it up more succinctly.
“Obviously,” Stevens said after the young wing exploded from behind the arc in the blowout victory, “22 points on eight shots is great.”
Give the man credit: When he’s right, he’s right.
Brown had one of the most impressive performances of his young career on Wednesday, tallying 22 points on 7-for-8 shooting (5-for-6 from behind the arc) in Boston’s 113-86 win. He drilled Boston’s second field goal — a triple assisted by Kyrie Irving — before knocking down a tough jumper plus the foul. A few minutes later, he powered down one of the better dunks of the season (once again assisted by Irving).
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The Celtics probably would have won without Brown (the Kings are not a good team), but he helped make the victory easy. A third-quarter flurry from Brown — which included one impressive heat check triple from the corner through a heavy contest — more or less put the game out of reach.
Despite assisting on three of Brown’s five shots, Irving deflected any credit for Brown’s performance, shaking his head when a reporter asked him if he’s in Brown’s ear.
“It’s all Jaylen,” Irving said. “He’s got the will of a great player, just consistent, putting the work in, understanding — I’ve said it before — that his impact can be felt whether he’s shooting well or not. We need his energy out there. As a second-year player, he’s an experienced guy in this group. And we need him to consistently be that. He knows what he brings to this team, so whether he’s shooting well or not, I just want him to still have that same mindset that he can still make a big impact on the game.”
But Brown noted how the Kings’ defense — which, like many defenses that face the Celtics this year, was tilted toward Irving — gave him open looks as a result of the star point guard’s gravity.
“Kyrie and Horford draw so much attention, especially Kyrie,” Brown said. “I’m just licking my chops when they double Kyrie or whatever. Just trying to stay as ready as possible, and try to take the pressure off them, because you have to guard me, and Jayson (Tatum) and (Marcus) Smart. Terry (Rozier) too.”
Brown has had an up and down start to his sophomore season — at times flashing the All-Star potential of an athletic No. 3 pick, while at others looking like a 21-year-old who still lacks a lot of experience. After Wednesday’s game, Brad Stevens — answering a question about Semi Ojeleye — also told reporters why Brown’s performance was important. Stevens noted that Ojeleye hit his first NBA 3-pointer in garbage time against the Spurs, a shot that seemed to make him more comfortable taking open triples Wednesday against Sacramento.
“With all these young guys, all these minutes matter so much,” Stevens said. “Guerschon (Yabusele)’s minutes matter. (Abdel) Nader’s minutes at the end, after he had a couple of mistakes, I thought he played with some good authority there, you carry that over for your next opportunity.”
Presumably, the same could happen for Brown. His next opportunity will come sooner than Yabusele and Nader. He’s earned a starting role in large part thanks to his versatile defense — a necessity for a Celtics team sporting the best defensive numbers in the league.
But Brown’s offense is fascinating. Perhaps more than any other Celtic, the variance in Brown’s potential outcomes as a player vary significantly. If he doesn’t develop any further, he’s a useful role player with explosive athleticism who can defend and get some buckets here and there.
But he can be a lot more. Brown needs to be more consistent offensively, taking advantage of all the space created by Irving/Horford pick-and-rolls. He also needs to create space in which Irving can operate, stretching opponents to the 3-point line. If he wants to maximize his potential as a Celtic, he needs shooting performances like Wednesday more often.
Stevens thinks it could happen.
“I thought he played really well, and that’s a good thing,” Stevens said. “We believe in his shooting. That’s for sure.”
Boston Celtics wing Jaylen Brown has ‘will of a great player,’ according to Kyrie Irving – MassLive.com