Jaylen Brown has had a slow start to the season for the Boston Celtics, but he will be able to turn it around soon. Here’s why.
Within the Boston Celtics organization, nobody is panicking about the slow start. Of course, players and coaches are frustrated to be 11-10 and sixth in the East rankings, but they realize they still have a lot of time to turn it around and a lot of reasons for the slow start.
Celtics fans, however, aren’t so level-headed. With ‘ANYTHING IS POSSSIBLE‘ expectations in the summer, fans have experienced a major emotional letdown due to the Celtics poor play. I’m sure the players have felt it too, as well as the pressure to get it fixed.
When things aren’t going well, it’s natural to want to place blame. How can you fix something if you don’t know what part is broken?
Through 20 games, Jaylen Brown‘s disappointing play and pathetic shooting have made him an easy target for fans to stick the losses on. When he missed the Pelicans game with a back injury, and Marcus Smart took his place in the starting lineup for a decisive win, it only fanned the fire.
Brown will miss Friday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers as well; no word yet on whether he will travel with the team and play Saturday in Minnesota.
In 20 starts, Brown is posting 11.1 points per game on 39.8 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent from three-point land. Last season, he shot a career-best 39 percent from the three-point line.
Brown is an important piece to Boston’s success puzzle because he is the only player that gets into the paint and can score with any regularity. Aside from Kyrie Irving, Brown drives the ball more than any other Celtic, per NBA tracking data.
In addition, Brown ranks 8th among all guards in paint touches per game. Kyrie Irving ranks 6th. Among the top 10 guards, Brown (48%) and Irving (45%) are the only players shooting less than 50 percent in the paint, while Jimmy Butler leads the way at 73%.
Last season, Brown attempted 45 percent of his shots at the rim, 88th percentile among wings, while making 58 percent of those shots. This season, Brown is shooting 43 percent of his shots at the rim, while making 56 percent of those shots.
Most of Brown’s regression has come because of his shooting and lack of scoring touch in the in-between game. He is shooting the exact same number of threes per 36 minutes as last season (5.1), but making 14 percent fewer at 25 percent.
Brown is shooting just 17 percent on almost 1.8 wide open three-pointer per game. Last season, he shot 43.8 percent on 2.2 wide-open attempts.
Now, Brown didn’t have a shooter’s reputation entering the league, but he put a ton of work into honing his three-point shot early in his career, even shooting 35 percent as a rookie. But I don’t think Brown’s suddenly reverted back to the poor shooter he was in high school and college.
Brown’s early season shooting woes can be attributed to a combination of bad luck, adjusting to the new Celtics lineups, and a loss of confidence. As a young player, Brown expected to take a step forward just as he did last season and when it didn’t happen right away, he seemed to get down on himself.
You can see Brown pressing out there and wondering where he fits in the new landscape. Gordon Hayward‘s own bumpy transition back form injury hasn’t made it any easier for the third-year forward to find his place.
The good news is, ideally, Brown’s role on this team should be very similar to what it was on last year’s team: play pesky perimeter defense, push for openings in transition, shoot open kick-and-shoot three-pointers, and drive strong to the cup if the defense overplays the shot, or he has a good matchup.
Of course, finding out where and when to do that within the flow of an NBA offense is easier said than done and there are a lot of other factors to consider. But, if and when Brown’s confidence and jumper return to him, he’ll find his talents are well-suited to the role he can play for a championship contender.
Brown scored 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting against Dallas, in one of his best games of the season, without attempting a three before falling and injuring his back. Hopefully, when Brown’s time on the inactive list ends, so does his season-long slump.