With the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes still developing, the Boston Celtics once again find themselves at the center of trade discussions due to their wealth of young assets and ability to field a contending team even after paying a heavy price. The most-linked piece on the Celtics side has been Jaylen Brown, who would most likely headline any Celtics package built on young players and picks.
But an interesting question emerges: Is Jaylen Brown already on track to be a young Kawhi himself? Zach Lowe made a case for it:
There’s also this: What if Brown is on a path to becoming the next Kawhi Leonard? There are striking statistical and stylistic similarities between Brown and the Leonard of 2012 and 2013. Like Leonard then, Brown already profiles as an elite multi-positional wing defender. By the end of their second seasons, both had shattered developmental curves on offense.
For those of you ready to scroll down in the comment section and go crazy, let’s just play this out for a second. Here is how Jaylen Brown and Kawhi Leonard stacked up in their second years:
In the playoffs during their second seasons, Jaylen Brown averaged 18/4.8/1.4 on 46.6/39.3/64 while Leonard averaged 13.5/9/1 on 54.5/39/63.3 shooting. Both made monumental leaps as shooters, and Brown in particular took a substantial step as a defender. Both were still developing as pick-and-roll creators, with each showing real flashes. During the postseason, Brown was in the 75th percentile out of the PnR via NBA.com while last season Leonard was in the 93rd percentile with almost 30% of his scoring opportunities coming from that play.
It is obviously early days when it comes to projecting Jaylen Brown to arguably a top-5 player in the league. But the combination of his body type, play style, and performing ahead of the learning curve makes that potential outcome at the very least a question. The ramifications of that outcome weigh heavily for Boston, who would be sacrificing an extended winning window for a player who has made it very clear through his outlets that his interests reside in Los Angeles.