Jaylen Brown was 2 for 6 from the field and missed his only 3 pointer. Oh no, he’s regressing into his early season slump, right? Not so fast.
First of all, it is highly probable that Jaylen’s early season struggles have been a bit overblown due to first impressions. He started off so poorly that he dug himself a statistical hole that has been difficult to dig out of. But if you take a look at his monthly splits, he’s increased his true shooting percentage each month (45.1% in October – yuck – 47.7% in November – ick – 58.0% in December – ok now – 59.7% in January – small sample size, but right on). For comparison purposes, Kyrie Irving is at 59.2% for the season.
With all that said, sometimes we (the media and fans) can make too much of point totals and counting stats. Shooting is only one aspect of a player’s performance. It goes a long way towards wins and losses, but some days, the shots go in and other days they don’t. What Brad Stevens has been preaching all season long is making the right plays to impact the game on a consistent basis.
Against the visiting Nets on Monday night, Brown didn’t shoot very well and in fact, didn’t even shoot very often. But he had an overall positive effect on the game in other ways, “the little things” as Kyrie Irving has talked about over and over again all year. He hustled for loose balls (including 5 rebounds), made the correct reads (4 assists), and played heads up defense (he was a +15 in on/off numbers).
For example, there was one long rebound that Brown tracked down, read the floor, and volleyball passed up the court to a wide open Terry Rozier for a transition dunk.
In another transition opportunity Brown drove into the teeth of the defense, turned, sealed a man on his back, and fed a streaking Semi Ojeleye for an easy dunk. Those are heads up plays that contribute directly to the win.
The common complaint about this team early in the year was that “young players” were looking for their shots instead of accepting a slightly reduced role in the offense. That’s a hard lesson for any young player to learn, in particular once they’ve tasted success on a big stage. I think it is worth noting and celebrating a game where a player is using their time on the court wisely even when they are not taking a lot of shots.