Jaylen Brown’s continued growth from perceived draft day reach to MVP candidate is well documented.
The former No. 3 overall pick in 2016, Brown was welcomed to Boston with boos as highly-touted prospects such as Kris Dunn remained on the board. The Cal-Berkeley product’s rookie output of 6.6 ppg didn’t do much to alter perception.
Fast forward to current day, and Brown is in the midst of a career-year, ranking sixth in the NBA in scoring with 27.3 ppg and ending any debate of whether he was the correct selection for the Celtics. In return, Brown’s play has created new debates such as if he’s supplanted Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram as the best player from his draft class, whether he’s surpassed Jayson Tatum as Boston’s most important player and so on.
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Marcus Smart: Brown is ‘One of the Best Young Players in this Game’
As the Celtic’s longest-tenured player, guard Marcus Smart has enjoyed a front-row seat to watch Brown’s steady, yet rapid development and couldn’t be more proud by the growth the future All-Star has demonstrated.
“His patience and poise when he has the ball,” Smart said of Brown. “His rookie year, year two, that Jaylen Brown would just put his head down and go and not understand where he was going. But he worked hard, you’ve got to give him credit. And it shows.”
“That’s why he’s one of the best young players in this game and doing what he’s doing – and doing what he’s doing for this team. So I’m just very, very proud of the way that he approaches every game, and like I said you can see it and it’s working out for him.”
Vince Carter & Brian Windhorst Heap Praise on Brown
Brown’s play this season looks destined to yield the 24-year-old a plethora of accolades and hardware. Following his historical performance this past Sunday where Brown set a record for most points scored (33) in less than 20 minutes of playing time, he earned a shoutout from Celtics legend Bill Russell on Twitter.
— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) January 25, 2021
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst took his praise for Brown even further.
“He’s on my Most Improved ballot, he’s on the All-Star ballot, he’s on the All-NBA ballot,” Windhorst said on ESPN’s The Jump. “I’ve got to be honest, there’s only three or four players in this league right now I would probably trade Jaylen Brown for, and the contract he signed — while it is a $100-million contract, it’s well less than the max, making the Celtics thrilled that they got him on that deal. He’s arguably one of the most valued dollar-for-dollar players in the league right now, and if you watch the way he got the points in this game, he showed everything.”
Windhorst turned back the clock to highlight some of the flaws from Brown’s early years and the growth he’s shown to develop into a dominant piece for a championship contender.
“A couple years ago when he was in his second year, I thought he was going to be sort of a 3-and-D player,” Windhorst said. “Hard-nosed defender who would score when the ball came to him, he wasn’t getting the ball much. Now you look at him and say, ‘He’s a foundational piece of a championship contender.’”
Eight-time All-Star and current ESPN analyst Vince Carter echoed Windhurst’s take on The Jump, dubbing Brown as the favorite to take home this season’s MIP award.
“I think right now, [it’s a] Most-Improved, the All-Star level that he’s playing at right now,” Carter stated. “Look out for Jaylen Brown, because the Celtics have a great opportunity to come out of the East because they play on both ends extremely hard.”
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