Jaylen Brown won’t be an All-Star this year, that much is clear in a Celtics season that’s gone in every imaginable direction thus far. Isaiah Thomas should be, Avery Bradley has an outside chance, but Brown’s chances hinge on further development. He isn’t ready for that stage yet.
What he may be prepared for is the second-biggest stage of All-Star weekend.
Jaylen Brown admits he’s intrigued by dunk contest. Has talked with Gerald Green about it. Green willing to help out the rookie.— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) December 29, 2016
Jaylen Brown in the 2017 slam dunk competition!!! We need him in it.— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas) December 28, 2016
The young guns have pulsed new life into the dunk competition, widely seen as declining in luster since the days when the NBA’s greatest stars like Dominique Wilkins and Vince Carter showed out to display some of the most iconic slams of all time. Last year in one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2015-16 season, Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon, both 20 years old at the time, faced off in one of the most electric dunk showdowns the league has ever seen.
Now that Gordon and LaVine are seasoned dunking veterans, there needs to be some new, young life in the contest once again. Enter, 20-year-old Brown.
Only averaging 13 minutes per game in 2016-17, Brown has continuously displayed raw athleticism that is perfect for the dunk contest. While Nikola Vucevic’s face may not be the best prop come February, this slam was ferocious.
Nor would Justin Hamilton’s, well, you know.
Not all of Brown’s high-flying attempts at making plays for the Celtics have resulted in productive outcomes for the team. There’s an open debate as to whether or not more minutes for him would be beneficial for both now and the future. One thing that seems certain is that he is the kind of athlete the dunk contest needs more of to breathe more new life into the event.
If the stars like LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard aren’t going to show up, the competition must become a showcase for upcoming talent like Brown. There’s a vast array of ridiculous athletes coming into the NBA at the end of their teenage years, and showing off their slams is the best way to introduce them to the world.
Green knows his way around a dunk, even a whole decade after he did this. If LaVine defied gravity, Green looked in control of it almost 10 years ago. How awesome would it be to see him pushing Brown through the competition the way Paul Pierce did with a young Green back in 2007? Maybe Kevin Garnett will show up to lead Karl-Anthony Towns into the competition. Let the young guys dunk, and this could become a marquee event on the NBA calendar as it once was.