WALTHAM - Jaylen Brown is dangerous. He is ready to rip someone's head off.
Brown is a unique breed of basketball player, tenaciously confident while having a mindful temerity. He insists he will scorch the earth in his mission to be a top-five player in the NBA, but does not have the ego or insecurity to shove his teammates out of the way on that path.
"I'm overly confident. I believe in myself 100-percent," Brown said after the Celtics' introductory rookie press conference Friday. "I believe in my game and I believe in my work ethic. I don't [think] anybody works as hard as me, especially not in this draft class. I'm going to go out and show what I can do.
"Rome wasn't built in a day. It'll take time. You'll see."
The reception from the fan base was a mixed bag of despair, frustration and furor. The prospect of a proven franchise cornerstone was dangled so closely to Boston's face that the pheromones became intoxicating. So the come down from the high unfortunately landed on Ainge and Brown's shoulders. Jaylen is quite aware of the response and has vowed to turn the haters into his biggest supporters.
"First off, I want to say my excitement level. Between 1 and 10, I'm about a 12 now," Brown said with his opening remarks. "I'm happy to be here and I'm gonna go to war for this city. I'm going to play with a lot of passion and leave it all on the floor every night."
Brown is portrayed by those who know him as someone who has great dedication to the game and the work ethic of an overachiever. Both Celtics brass as well as friends and mentors form his time at Cal know him as a basketball player with a clear goal and the willpower and tools to achieve it.
"I think Jaylen has a lot of confidence, but I also think he has like a work ethic and character to live up to the feeling that he has of himself," Danny Ainge said. "He believes that he can be a very special player. I did sense that, but not in an arrogant way. I mean, I feel like he is willing to put in the work to what it takes to become a great player."
His freshman year at Cal was unfulfilling, putting up somewhat disappointing numbers as his productivity tapered off during the spring. Playing in a system with two centers and little pace or space to allow him to flourish, Jaylen does not make excuses.
"I put a lot of blame on myself because being highly-recruited out of high school, I felt obligated to do much better than I did. We came up short. But it's all about getting better and adding fuel to the flame.
"So, now I'm here in Boston. Now I'm ready to rip somebody's head off."
Ainge has cited Brown's significantly better shooting performance in his senior year of high school as an indicator for his potential to develop his perimeter scoring game. While Brown has physical attributes and ball-handling skills that should make him an impact player as a swing in Stevens' system, he will only go as far as his outside shot will take him.
His workout for the Celtics hammered home his growth potential. When elite marksmen like Buddy Hield and Jamal Murray put up strong numbers in the Celtics' five-star three-point shooting drill, Brown came in and matched them. While many top prospects often decline to work out against other prospects, Brown embraced it.
"I felt like some of the guys probably had a better year than me in college. I didn't think I had a really good year at Cal and I think I had a lot more to show and a lot more potential," Brown told CelticsBlog when asked why he was willing to go against other prospects in the Celtics' workouts. "So, I wasn't hiding, I wasn't scared of anybody. I wasn't trying to cover up anything so I decided to come in [and workout] with some guys and it paid off."
Questions about his interests outside of basketball tend to roll off his Teflon coating. He was a sharp student who played ball at one of the most prestigious schools in the country. His dedication to academic pursuits and personal interests has raised curiosities from short-sighted observers, who expect every player to eat, sleep and die basketball. Brown finds the concerns to be comical.
"It makes me laugh a little bit, to some extent," he said. "For me, I'm going to keep being who I am and just respond with silence and just be myself. I can't help but smile when people say things like that.
"Like, guys who are into school and love education are awful people, right? I can't help but smile when people when say things like that. I am a basketball player and I love to play basketball. But I also love education, I love reading, I love literacy. I'm going to let people know that as well."
When CelticsBlog asked him if he plans to continue his education in the university-rich Boston area, Brown said he is one step ahead.
"It's something to think about, for sure. I've already looked and done some research about it. Right now, I'm focusing on the season, focusing on the Summer League and my craft and things like that. But it's definitely something to think about and I can't wait to start exploring my options."
His experience in Boston will be well-rounded and intense. He has the makings of an aggressive and dynamic player that will become the toast of the town as soon as his first coast-to-coast dunk passes through the rim. He brings the versatility and confidence with the ball in his hands that the Celtics desperately needed.
His weaknesses can become his strengths and he is in the right system to flourish. Stevens will have him switching pick-and-rolls and flying down the floor in transition. The fast break will be his run of freedom, but the half court offense will be his training ground. The harrowed work ethic and commitment to growth will be tested there.
Eventually, Brown can build his own Rome.