It was a widespread sentiment across the NBA that Jaylen Brown suffered an All-Star snub this year. Celtics fans especially felt it deep in their guts. Recently I put a poll out on Twitter , asking Celtics Nations to let me know how they felt about JB. The choices were Overrated, Underrated, or The Unsung Hero. The results were not surprising 80% of fans that responded though Jaylen was underrated, 17% felt as though he is the unsung hero and 3% said he was overrated. I'm going to assume that 3% were Lakers fans, lol. Clearly the Celtics Organization has complete faith in Brown, as they gave him a $115 million dollar extension contract this summer, which makes him the first rookie since Rhondo to sign a rookier scale contract extension. Jaylen is a valuable piece to the dynasty Danny is building. In an interview after Jaylen's contract was signed, Danny said, "Jaylen is a true professional (and did) a great job accepting his role last season, and he is a major part of our championship goals." Strong words for a President of operations to say. So why the doubts or jeers from the fans over Jaylen Brown? Looking back at his first few years, Brown was inconsistent at best, which can cause anyone to fear that his contract out-valued his cost. However, he has more than proven to be worth every penny with the way he's playing this year.
Jaylen Brown came to us as the 1st round, 3rd pick overall in the 2016 NBA draft from the University of California, Berkley. His rookie year was like most in the league, a lot of bench time, limited minutes on the court and only averaged 6.6 points a game. His sophomore year had an ominous start, as Gordon Hayward went down along with any hopes of a title run, but it was also were Boston began to see the promise of this young man. Fans watched as Jaylen was promoted to starter in all 70 games he played, and enjoyed the fact he was increasing his offensive range, averaging 14.5 points a game. Defensively though, is where fans would get frustrated with Jaylen. He often looked lost and wasn't in the right position to guard his opponent and teams exploited that. As most coaches would, Brad Stevens would sit Brown down when plays weren't being executed regularly. Overall, sophomore year was a success for Jaylen. He and the young Celtics team took the Cleveland Cavaliers to Game 7 of the ECF, which in turn geared up fans for his 3rd season in Boston.
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Year three had all the markings of a title run year. Hayward and Irving were back, Tatum had one year under his belt and Brown was settling into his own. However, it wasn't long until Boston fans realized this might not be the season of hope. The situation in the 2018- 2019 season made it difficult for any player to improve, most of all Jaylen. He was made to take a lesser role coming off the bench, playing an average of 4.8 less minutes per game, which naturally led to less points per game, less effectiveness per game and made almost all his box scores go down. That shouldn't have surprised anyone though. After all, if something is healthy, it grows, if it's not, well, it can't. And last season was anything but healthy. If anyone should have been frustrated that year it was him, but Jaylen handled it with maturity. In nearly any interview, Brown would answer with "I'm doing what's best for the team," or "it's not about me, it's about the team," and so on. Unfortunately, when considering who should stay or leave, fans often look at PPG, or other things on a stat sheet. And last season's numbers made Celtics Nation scratch their head as to why Danny would offer such a large contract this past summer.
Jaylen has been shushing his doubters this entire season. He went back to his starting role, where he clearly belongs, and has been on fire! Most players, once having the security of a contract, would be tempted to back off and not feel the need to prove oneself. Not Jaylen. Brown has been more aggressive this year than all three years combined, which could explain missing more games due to injury. For those interested in box scores, Jaylen is averaging 20.2 points per game, 6.4 rebounds per game, 2.2 assists per game and has dramatically increased his FT% from 65.8% to 74.3%. He's become one of the most reliable guys on the team. A healthy team environment equals both team and individual growth, to which Jaylen is a perfect testament to.
Jaylen is both underrated by fans as well as an unsung hero of the season. His fatih, consistency, and hard work has definitely paid off. As Boston builds the next dynasty, the potential for Jaylen to see more than just Banner 18 hung in the rafters is certain. Let's look forward to watching this young man crash through the ceiling of expectations.
Feature Photo by NBC Sports Boston.