“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential…these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence,” –Confucius
By: Alexander Eddy
What type of player will Jaylen Brown be in the NBA? All Celtics fans have pondered this critical question. Jaylen is a raw 19-year-old with clear physical attributes. He is strong, long, quick, and mobile. However, the best part about Jaylen is his infectious personality and his unique intelligence.
Chris Forsberg recently wrote about Jae Crowder and his relationship with Jaylen Brown. Crowder said, “He’s everything that I wanted to be at that age,” said Crowder. “He’s very mature, beyond his years. He’ll have a conversation with you about anything. I like that, personally. I don’t always want to talk about basketball. I want a guy that I can go be at home with and just chill and talk about anything. He loves music, just like me. He’s into music, he makes beats and stuff like that. I just wanted to get to know him a little bit more.” Jaylen has a personality that seems to light up the room, and his work ethic is off the charts. He trained with Jimmy Butler over the summer, and I watched multiple videos of their conditioning exercises on the beach. Jaylen seems like he really wants it. He really wants to be great.
In terms of his unique intelligence, Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote about Jaylen during his one season at Cal. On free Saturday afternoons, Brown challenged old-timers to chess at a Bohemian cafe in Berkeley. Additionally, Jaylen enrolled in a graduate level class at Cal as a freshman. “ When Brown approached Van Rheenen about enrolling in his course, the director of Cal’s athletic study center was reluctant. Never before had a freshman taken the class, which was part of a master’s degree program on Cultural Studies of Sport in Education.” This class involved writing a 20-page narrative. I guarantee Jaylen received an A+ in his interview with Danny Ainge. I imagine his intelligence on and off the basketball court absolutely blew Danny Ainge away. Danny described that after a draft workout with Jaylen, “So Jaylen, I thought looked very good in a workout,” Ainge said. “It was an excellent workout.” When I was reading about how Danny fell in love with Jaylen over the summer, I knew he wasn’t going to pass on him. Jaylen Browns don’t come around often. I wanted the Celtics to draft Kris Dunn, but the guard position is already so deep with IT, Avery, Smart, and Rozier. And it didn’t seem like Danny wanted to take a risk on Bender or Chriss. So, I cannot be upset with the Celtics drafting Jaylen, but the big question is, what is his upside?
IF Jaylen reaches his full potential, he can become a Kawhi Leonard. That is a huge IF. Jaylen fits that mold though. The mold of a Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder, and Kawhi Leonard. All three are defensive studs, who all improved on their shooting when they got to the NBA. Jimmy and Jae are Buzz Williams guys and I think it is a huge benefit for Jaylen to be around guys like this. These guys are high energy and high motor players, and I think Jaylen fits with them perfectly.
Now, let’s get to the facts. The statistics. Brown’s freshman year with the Golden Bears.
27.6 minutes per game
14. 6 points
0.431 from the field
0.294 from 3
0.654 from the free-throw line
3.1 turnovers per game (4.5 turnovers per 40 minutes)
Physical attributes from 2016 draft combine:
6’6.75” with shoes
6’ 11.75” wingspan
8’ 6.5” standing reach
The two things that stand out to me are the turnovers and the poor shooting. As I said previously, Jaylen is extremely raw. At Cal, he often played out of control. Jaylen shot 1-6 in Cal’s tournament loss to Hawaii. He also had seven turnovers. Yes, SEVEN! Lets be honest here, Jaylen Brown did not have an impressive freshman year. He probably should have stayed in college another year with Ivan Rabb, but as we know, the NBA has switched to drafting one and done guys. They are young and have the upside. I then looked at the college stats of one of my favorite NBA players, Kawhi Leonard.
2009-2010 season: 2010-2011 season:
31.3 minutes per game 32.6 minutes per game
12.7 points per game 15.5 points per game
9.9 rebounds per game 10.6 rebounds per game
0.455 from the field 0.444 from the field
0.205 from 3 0.291 from 3
0.726 from the free throw line 0.759 from free throw
2.3 turnovers per game 2.1 turnovers per game
Physical attributes from 2011 NBA draft combine:
6’7” with shoes
8’10” standing reach
Everyone forgets that Kawhi Leonard couldn’t shoot from 3 to save his life in college. His numbers from 3 were WORSE THAN Jaylen’s. Overall, Kawhi and Jaylen have very similar college numbers across the board. Both were terrible shooters in college (Kawhi was better from the free throw line). The statistics are, for the most part, in the same ballpark.
Kawhi’s 2015-2016 regular season stats (5th season):
0.506 field goal
0.443 3 point
0.874 free throw
1.5 turnovers per game
These numbers are honestly unbelievable if you compare them to his SDSU stats. His improvement from his two years at SDSU to his 5th season in the NBA is staggering, and it just shows you how hard he worked. I imagine being traded to the Spurs on draft day and working with Pop and Duncan helped him out, but he must have put in a ridiculous amount of work. I consider Kawhi a top five player in the game, so that is an unfortunate comparison for Jaylen. By no means am I saying Brown can be Kawhi Leonard one day. Let’s face it, Kawhi is a rarity. However, Jaylen does have the tools and the work ethic necessary to get there. It will take time. Kawhi only averaged 7.9 points his rookie year, but he has increased that number every single year. This past season was by far his best season. So, I, for one, am very curious to see what Jaylen’s stats look like in 5-6 years.