With Tatum bound to miss some time, his teammate and partner in crime Jaylen Brown will likely shoulder even more of the team’s offensive duties. Considering Brown’s brilliance on the offensive end this year, it shouldn’t prove to be much of an issue.
The most efficient scorer amongst the NBA’s top-10 scorers this season (53% field goal percentage / 26.3 ppg), Brown has quickly ascended from high-end two-way player to now finding himself squarely placed in MVP talks over the first two and a half weeks of the 2020-21 season. In fact, some, such as former Celtics champion Kendrick Perkins, believe Brown has even supplanted Tatum as the team’s best player.
While NBC Sports’ Chris Forsberg won’t go to that extent, his latest rankings of the “NBA’s Top 10 players in East” demonstrates that the once-sizeable disparity between the two Celtics stars is quickly closing.
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Brown Ranks 6th in East’s Top 10 Players Rankings
As one would expect, Forsberg’s top 10 rankings consisted of a star-studded cast. Players such as the NBA’s scoring leader, Bradley Beal (35.0 ppg), former Celtic Gordon Hayward, Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis and Tobias Harris, who recently edged out Brown for POTW honors, all made the cut. Yet, all were outpaced by Brown in the rankings, as the fifth-year pro clocked in at No. 6 on the list.
Here’s Forsberg’s reasoning:
Call it a homer take if you’ve ventured here from outside New England but Brown has been spectacular to start the season. He’s sixth in the East in scoring while shooting 42.1 percent beyond the 3-point arc and 65.1 percent from the mid-range. Is it sustainable? Nothing about the way Brown is operating suggests it isn’t.
We are interested to see how the return of Walker impacts him — will another All-Star presence loosen up the defense and create more opportunities, or take away shots from a player that has thrived with an increased responsibility? Brown’s two-way talents simply set him apart from many of the empty-calorie scorers on this list, which is why we’ve given him such lofty placement.
Certainly a lofty placement for a player who over his first four NBA seasons failed to make an All-Star squad (even if he was snubbed). As we harped on earlier and Forsberg touched on above, Brown’s menacing defense matched with his continued growth as a scorer is what separates him from the “empty-calorie scorers” of the NBA.
It’s also what puts Brown just three slots behind his All-Star teammate.
Jayson Tatum Checks in at No. 3
While Brown’s development this season has stolen headlines, it remains Tatum, the 6-foot-8-inch forward (or 6-foot-10-inch depending on his haircut at the time) who heads the charge for a Celtics team with title aspirations.
An All-NBA Third Team selection a season ago, Tatum has continued to evolve and mature as an all-around star. In return, the only players to outrank the 22-year-old on Forsberg’s list of East Elite’s, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant, have a combined three NBA MVPs to their names.
Even with teams making him the focus of their defensive game plans — this while Kemba Walker is sidelined to start the year — Tatum is averaging a robust 26.9 points per game. Ten games into the season, he’s already got a pair of game-winners in his pocket. His true shooting percentage is at a career high (58.8), he’s improved his playmaking, and he’s been extra active on the glass. A healthy Walker could give him even more space to operate.
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