When Jaylen Brown was coming out of the University of California as a one-and-done freshman, the biggest knock on his game was the lack of a consistent jump shot. In 34 games with the Golden Bears, Brown hit just 29.4% of his 102 three-point attempts and only 65.4% of his 217 free throws. The concerns about how his shot would translate were legitimate.
Fast forward two years and Brown is enjoying one of the hottest streaks of his career from beyond the arc, and the timing couldn’t be better for a Celtics team that will be forced to persevere through the postseason without its most productive offensive player in Kyrie Irving.
Since the All-Star break, Brown has appeared in 16 games, knocking down 47.4% of his threes over that stretch and doing it from all areas of the floor. Whether he’s spotting up in the half court or filling the lane in transition, Brown has made himself a threat as someone that needs to be accounted for at all times.
He’s been particularly effective from the corners all season and tends to favor the left, where he’s made nearly half (48.4%) of his 62 looks. That number rose to 55.6% in his post All-Star break sample, albeit on just nine attempts, and it’s helped open things up in drive-and-kick scenarios.
Brown has also done a nice job of relocating behind the three-point line when his drives to the rim are snuffed out. Often times that can result in wide open looks and Brown has made defenses pay in those situations. Since the All-Star break he’s made 55.6% of his 27 long range attempts when the closest defender is six or more feet away from him.
Again, not a huge sample size and also not as sexy as a high conversion rate when defenders are draped all over the shooter. But making wide open jumpers is arguably more important than making them with a hand in your face. They’re supposed to be “easy” and Brown has certainly made them look that way.
Brown’s improvements have helped him earn more trust with Brad Stevens in end-of-game situations as well and his game-winner against the Utah Jazz was a prime example of that. Stevens drew up a really nice play to get his second-year forward open above the break where Brown has made 41.5% of his 41 attempts since the All-Star break and 37.5% for the season overall.
Plays like that help build a player’s confidence and it seems as though Brown’s has been sky high over the last couple of months. He’s hesitating less and going straight into his shot upon catching the ball.
For the season, Brown shoots 39% from beyond the arc when he holds the ball for less than two seconds and is a bit better when he shoots it without dribbling (39.6%). The ability to catch and shoot quickly is huge, especially in the playoffs, because it prevents the defense from being able to rotate back to contest the shot.
If Brown can continue to shoot this way in the postseason he’s going to present a lot of problems for Boston’s opponents. Rather than doubling down to help prevent a drive to the basket, Brown’s defenders are going to have to stay closer to him, which will open up driving lanes for his teammates. If the defender chooses to help, Brown will be right there to hit a dagger.
It’ll be interesting to see if Stevens implements more screening for Brown to run off for threes. He’s more of a stationary shooter at this point, but you can’t argue with the numbers he’s been putting up. With so few options offensively, the Celtics are going to have to explore all avenues if they hope to advance deep into the postseason. One thing is for sure though: the kid who scouts weren’t sure could hit the deep ball seems to be gone. Brown needs to be accounted for now and he’ll hurt you if given the chance.