First impressions have a lasting impact. Here’s hoping that Jaylen Brown’s first game is an indication of the impact he’ll have on the Celtics.
For me, the phrase that kept popping up in my head while watching him was “he’s not afraid.” Most rookies take some time to sort things out. You can usually see their brains working in slow motion as they try to figure out where on the court they belong at each moment. They overthink.
Not Jaylen. He played in the moment, and he didn’t shy away from the spotlight. As he told Jared Weiss in our recap article (talking about his first dunk attempt):
“It was just read-and-react,” he said. “I’d seen the play, I was in the present, and I tried to make a play. That was it.”
His first touch was a pass from Isaiah Thomas who collapsed the defenders in the paint and found Brown cutting from the weak side. Brown gathered the pass, took a strong step toward the basket, and layed the ball up and in.
Jaylen isn’t much of a shooter yet, so I think you’ll see a lot of him cutting to the basket as a release valve for Thomas and other driving Celtics. He certainly knows what to do when he gets the ball.
His second touch was the aforementioned dunk attempt. He was a foot shy of delivering the tomahawk, and his defender paid dearly for obstructing his path to the hoop, but the aggressiveness was evident.
Another way in which Brown figures to be used is on the block. He’s shown a surprising amount of skill posting up. He knows where the defender is and has a sweet stroke on that fadeaway.
Finally, one of the primary ways the rookie figures to make an impact is in transition. Not just for rim rattling dunks (though I’m sure there will be a few of those) but also in pushing the pace and setting up his running mates. On one play he found Isaiah Thomas with a picture-perfect pass leading to a driving layup.
It was just one game against the Brooklyn Nets, and it wasn’t all highlights and hints of future glory (he was, after all, on the court when the Nets made a big run in the 4th). But it was a very nice introduction to Jaylen Brown in his first NBA game.
I’m still not sure where to set my expectations for the rookie. He was a top-3 pick, so I want a lot from him...eventually. But the knock on him was that he’s still raw and has trouble shooting the ball consistently. This team isn’t counting on him to be anything more than a rookie with some talent. Still, what I’ve seen of him thus far is that he knows his role and will not hesitate to execute when called upon.
In short, he’s not afraid—and that’s a very good start.