Jaylen Brown has shown a vast array of improvement across multiple facets of his game this season, from his improved jump shooting to his tighter handle. For stretches of the early season, you could make a case for him being the best player on the roster for both his offensive and defensive efficiency.
As the season has worn on, those improvements have become par for the course. He isn’t the new and improved Jaylen Brown anymore; instead, he’s just Jaylen Brown. Over the last month or so, talk of Brown has taken a back seat to the meteoric rise of his young counterpart, Jayson Tatum. Where some would have taken issue with the praise now flowing elsewhere, Brown seems to be truly happy with the attention Tatum has been garnering.
Flying under the radar, Brown has continued to string impressive performances together, too. From a defensive masterclass in Los Angeles guarding Anthony Davis and LeBron James to his all-around performance last night against the Portland Trail Blazers, Brown has shown out since the All-Star break.
Brown was affecting the game in a broad spectrum of ways in Portland, from solid defense to shot creation, finishing the night with 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists on 42.1 percent shooting from the field.
Throughout last year, Brown’s handle was a point of concern: sharp when going right, suspect when left. He’s shown us that it is no longer an issue this year with his ability to toy with his man until he sees a crack in the defense.
Brown straight up puts Carmelo Anthony on skates. It ended in a Hassan Whiteside block, but Brown shook Melo out of his sneakers.
His ability to beat his man off the dribble is opening up scoring opportunities in the mid-range as a result. Defenders appear to be apprehensive about pushing too far up on Brown. His speed and dribbling ability entices them into playing a drop style of defense as a result.
His improved handle has afforded him more space to work with and that’s made him a more efficient scorer, currently sitting at 49.4 percent from the field this season.
On the defensive end of the floor, Brown has been showing an incredible aptitude when guarding the league’s elite. No wonder that when faced with a resurgent but aging Melo, Brown came out of the matchup victorious.
NBA Stats tracked Brown guarding Melo for 30% of his defensive possessions, holding Melo scoreless in the process. Taking this a step further, Melo did not even attempt a shot when guarded by Brown. One of the games all-time elite shot makers did not unload a single attempt.
Brown’s game has grown exponentially over the last twelve months and now he is putting it all together on the court. Should he continue, there will be a legitimate argument for him to be in the Most Improved Player conversation. But accolades aside, Brown and Tatum’s development instills confidence that these two young players will be cornerstones of the franchise for years to come.