Why Jaylen Brown Looks Ready To Lead The 2021-22 Boston Celtics
Jaylen Brown, still recovering from wrist surgery, hasn’t had much chance to work on his game, yet it still feels like he’s made strides over the offseason. In conversation with The Undefeated’s Marc Spears earlier this week, the Boston Celtics wing made it clear that having to sit out of the playoffs only motivated him further.
“That was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” he told Spears, commenting on being forced to watch from the sidelines.
Brown had to have been doubly frustrated because before the season-ending wrist injury, he was playing as well as he ever had been. In a very uneven time for the Celtics, Brown ended up being a much-needed source of stability and the team’s most likely source of consistent production. As the rest of the roster dealt with Covid-19 related absences and slow-healing injuries, Brown was always there and often their most dangerous player, eventually earning the first All-Star nod of his career.
It’s fair to say that if Jaylen Brown were healthy, or at the very least available, the Celtics end up winning more than a single postseason game against the Brooklyn Nets. So, the best news that came out of the interview was that Brown—benefitting from the full offseason he didn’t get last year—believes he will be ready to participate at the start of training camp.
Brown also thinks that he’s due for an improvement. “I had a good season,” he told Spears, “but my body barely kept up. So, this year I think I’ll be a lot better in that category.” Considering that Brown averaged 24.7 points per game last season, alongside 6.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists, while playing typically superb defense on the other end, it’s worth wondering what numbers he would have put up if his body had felt better.
Yet Brown doesn’t come across as too hung up on his own individual, statistical game. When Spears asks the inevitable question about how he “and Jayson Tatum can take this franchise to the next level,” Brown gives the correct answer: “we’re going to need everybody… it’s going to take every one of us. If it’s just me and JT, it ain’t going to work.”
Brown could make a statistical leap and Tatum could even put up an MVP campaign, but it ultimately won’t matter if everybody on the team isn’t performing in their particular role. Despite him being the least of the 2020-21 team’s problems, Brown was vocally frustrated with his inability to get the most out of his teammates last season. This “every one of us” approach appears to be the hard-learned lesson he has taken from the experience.
It’s a lot to put on one’s teammates but Brown—particularly after last season—has established himself as one of the clear leaders on this Celtics team. This, of course, brings us to the big headline news that surrounded Brown’s Undefeated interview: in it, he confirms that he was among the players who lobbied the Celtics to hire an African-American head coach after Brad Stevens’s shock promotion to president of basketball operations.
The Celtics, of course, did just that. Not only that, their choice for new head coach Ime Udoka came at the recommendation of Brown, Tatum and Marcus Smart, who played under him when he was an assistant coach for Team USA during the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Brown, at just 24, very obviously already has a strong voice within the organization and is unafraid to wield it.
Okay, there’s only so much one can gather from a single interview, but in it, Brown comes across as an already great player—one who famously entered the league with an uncommon maturity—showing signs of growth. Brown sounds like he’s coming back to the basketball court with a healed wrist and an even bigger desire to win. The Celtics could very well profit richly from this.
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