Jaylen Brown’s best role came against the Dallas Mavericks
Personally, I don’t like any narrative pitting Jaylen Brown against Jayson Tatum, and I don’t really like talking about who the Boston Celtics‘ Primary and secondary options. Of course, I’ve participated in these discussions and have my opinions, but the truth is that both Tatum and Brown are among the best wings in the NBA, they just go about it in different ways.
Here’s where the problem lies, though. We see Tatum bringing the ball up the court, initiating the offense, attacking double teams and breaking down opponents with the dribble. We also see Tatum draw foul after foul and create shooting opportunities out of nowhere. And that sets the tone for what we expect from Brown.
However, Brown is not the same player.
His skill set is different, he excels at different things and needs to be used in a different way. Brown isn’t the guy you want regularly starting the offense; he can do it, but he’s not where he’s at his best. He’s also not the type you want to try to create his own shots multiple times per game. And you certainly don’t want Brown looking to push the pace as a ball handler, that’s when his dribbling becomes problematic.
Over the past 2 years, I’ve repeatedly stated my belief that Brown is best used as a “game finisher,” that thought process has received its fair share of flak, and rightfully so. However, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Brown’s best games come when he’s used in a finisher role and the burden of creation is taken off him.
One thing Brown has greatly improved in recent seasons is his ability to absorb and finish through contact, and it can be seen in the play above. Ripping off a weak side step screen, Brown gets the ball at the top of the perimeter and begins a straight drive to the hoop, taking a hit while in the air but still getting the shot down. This kind of possession is a finishing game, Boston put the ball in Brown’s hands, in an area where they know he is effective, and let him go to work, without having to focus on manipulating the defense.
We see a similar result in this possession. This time, Brown is a “sprint cut” (a fancy way of saying cut to the rim without the ball) also known as a “slot drive,” with Marcus Smart running the offense, a quick pocket pass allows to Brown to pick up the ball and explode to the rim to end the offensive possession.
Brown entered the league listed as an athletic slasher, so it’s no surprise that he excels in that area, especially now that he’s added size and strength to his frame and understands how to attack defenders with angles and explosiveness. Still, Brown is much more than just a straight-line driver, and the Celtics make sure their offense reflects that.
According to Cleaning The Glass, Brown is currently averaging 50% mid-range shooting, placing him in the 88th percentile among NBA wings.
Above, we can see how the Celtics used a dribble between Derrick White and Brown, with the idea of sending Brown “up the middle.” After contemplating shooting a 3, Brown attacks the defense before pulling up for a jumper around the nail. You can see the gravitas Brown has as a mid-range shooter by watching how the Mavericks defense looks to dig from the wings and get into the shooting pocket with Luka Doncic looking to close down the space.
Here we see a similar possession as Brown comes off the Smart screen with the goal of getting the ball while curling up in the middle zone, looking to shoot the catch and put the defense on skids. Of course, if someone was cutting the baseline, Brown would have had the option to pass as well, if he felt it necessary.
All of this means that Brown is often at his best when he gets the puck in his hands for one specific reason: to score. When you remove the extra burden that comes with being tasked as a playmaker or game starter, you’re freeing up Brown to be the best version of himself and building on his elite skill set as a versatile three-level scorer .
“The things he’s doing when he’s at his best are the same things JT does with his. You know, JT’s been in the MVP race conversations, and when JB plays the way he plays his highest peak, he’s in this race, too. … We have two shooters that can hurt. So, I’m saying, when JB plays at his best, he’s an MVP candidate, too.” Smart said.
Sure, there are times when Brown can create for himself and have success doing so, but the more you can cut down on those times, the more effective they will be as defenses prepare to contest the shot, drive or rush. -through, or look to kill a passing lane if the ball is in rotation.
After defending Brown as a playmaker all game, we saw Celtics wing shock Luka create himself off the dribble, creating all the space he needed with a behind-the-back crossover before of sealing the Mavericks’ superstar to his. off the hip and opening a straight line to the bucket.
If Brown had been operating as the primary ball-handler for most of the game, Luka is likely to expect Brown to attack, call for a help defender and force Brown to play through traffic, knowing that’s when he’s most susceptible to spin the ball. ball over
Just to reiterate, I’m not saying that Brown isn’t capable of playing a role similar to Tatum, rather I’m saying that he doesn’t have to. There is absolutely nothing wrong with accepting that your strengths are both different and complementary, especially when the outcomes are so clearly defined.
I’m not going to stop labeling Brown as a tight end, but I hope the label doesn’t come across as a negative connotation or belittle his skill set. All I’m saying is, if I want someone to finish a transition play, attack off the snap, or complete a set where the defense is in some kind of motion, I’m looking for Brown before anyone else.
After all, as we saw against Denver, and we’ve seen several times this season, Brown can get buckets when his role is to mark the rock and defend.
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