Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

How Good Can Jaylen Brown Really Be?

Hunter Perkins of Parquet Pundit discusses 2016 #3 Pick Jaylen Brown and his development so far during the 2016-17 season.

In his last 15 games (and nine starts), Jaylen “Easy Buckets” Brown is averaging 10.7 PPG and 4.5 RPG while shooting 51.4 from the field and 43.9% from three-point-land. He has played well in his starts, filling in for injured players at multiple positions. The 20-year-old’s development has been more than encouraging. Through a few rookie bumps and bruises, one thing has become apparent; this kid can play.

Jaylen Brown probably will not win rookie of the year. He doesn’t get quite enough playing time or take enough shots. But his case for the award lies beneath his statistics. He is contributing solid value to a high-seed playoff team. Malcolm Brogdon is playing well for the eighth-seeded Bucks, and Dario Saric is putting up fantastic numbers as the 76ers’ first option. Brown is playing very well, while only getting the touches that a fifth or sixth option gets.

One of my favorite aspects of Jaylen Brown’s game is his eagerness to get better and improve on his weaknesses and his strengths. He’s a smart kid with a tremendous work ethic and will to learn. He has the confidence of a veteran and the work ethic of kid trying to make varsity. Everyone watching him knows he is going to become a great player in this league. He’s certainly talented enough, and he carries all the intangibles needed to become a star in this league.

Jaylen Brown’s ceiling will be discussed often by many, but no one actually knows how good he can be. His offensive game compares well to Kawhi Leonard, which should scare everyone. He possesses the same explosiveness and finishing ability at Leonard, but he hasn’t refined the skills yet. He probably will never be the best defender in the league, but Brown has the strength, length, and instincts to become a damn good one.

Brown says all the right things, and he says them with confidence and intelligence. He was asked about being compared to Jimmy Butler after the Celtics beat the Bulls 100-80 on Sunday. “I’m not saying that Jimmy Butler’s my limit. I think I can be better one day. I have all respect for him, and he’ll probably tell me he wants me to try to be better than him, too. So I’ve just got to keep working, and everything will fall into place.” That doesn’t sound like a rookie who can’t even drink a beer yet. Brown is smart and way ahead of the rookie learning curve.

Jimmy Butler wasn’t shy in heaping praise in Brown’s direction, either. “You’ve got to want to be great, and I can tell from hanging around him this past summer that that’s what he wants. He loves to compete against the best. As long as he keeps that edge and that confidence, man, you can’t put a ceiling on that.” Butler continues on. “I like him,” he said. “He plays hard, he plays within himself, and he’s super confident. He’s going to be around this league for a while. He works, man, and that’s all you can ask. As long as he continues to want to get better, he’s going to do just that.

That’s a lot of praise from a top ten player in this league. Real recognizes real, and Butler is doing just that. Brown isn’t half the player he’ll eventually be, but there are things he does right now that should excite any basketball fan. He’s fearless. Whether he’s asked to guard Lebron James or switch out on Steph Curry, Brown is going to play active and hard defense. He doesn’t back down, and his strength allows him to contend with bigger and taller bodies.

Brown’s transition game is another thing to love about his rookie campaign. He has the ability to explode to the hoop and finish high off the bounce. He is able to get to the line with ease due to defenders’ inability to outjump Brown.

Jaylen’s shooting was the biggest knock on him coming out of California. The athleticism and finishing has always been there, but scouts wondered if his shooting would improve enough to be a star in the league. Brown endured some early-season shooting woes, but has really come into his own as a shooter. Defenders can no longer give Brown any space around the three-point line. If Brown can hit jump shots consistently, it’ll become much easier for him to get to the rim. That results in big dunks and easy buckets for Brown. He is a freak athlete that’ll only get stronger and quicker with practice and experience.

Some of Jaylen’s current weaknesses can and should be fixed. When the Celtics are playing zone, he sometimes isn’t aware of all the players running through his area. That will sometimes result in an easy bucket for the other team. Brown doesn’t always go up as hard as he should. He has a strong and powerful body; he should use that every time he jumps or goes up for a finish. His man-to-man defense has been a positive in his rookie season, but he is often a culprit of giving up easy fouls. These are things that can be worked on with a full offseason of training.

Jaylen Brown doesn’t want to be like one person. He wants to take the best part of different players’ games. “I like to take bits and pieces from a lot of people’s games,” Brown said. “It’s tough to say just one person that I think plays like me or plays how I want to play in the future. I can’t really put a name to that, but I like a lot of guys. I like Jimmy. Jimmy is a mentor of mine. I like his game. I like Kawhi. I like (Russell) Westbrook. I like Kyrie (Irving). I like what they do with the ball. I try to pull bits and pieces from everybody’s game.” Here we go, another case of Brown saying all the right things. This kid is impressive. His future is bright, and he is farther along down the path to NBA star than we all thought he would be. Slight boos on draft night are more than forgotten. Jaylen “Easy Buckets” Brown is here, and he’s here to stay.

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