The 2020 NBA season has been the “welcome to the party” moment for Jayson Tatum. He, along with new Celtics acquisition Kemba Walker, has averaged over 20 points per game and drew All-Star honors for their success.
But there is a third Celtic averaging over 20 a game who gets a fraction of the attention and accolades for his offense: Jaylen Brown. Jaylen’s scoring outburst isn’t necessarily overlooked, but the nature of his role on this team means our eyes naturally gravitate towards the other two stalwarts.
Of the three, Jaylen spends the least amount of time with the ball in his hands. That has as much to do with how impactful Tatum and Walker are off the dribble as it does with Brown’s proficiency at attacking closeouts and making decisions off the ball. It’s the best, most consistent part of his offensive arsenal.
Young basketball players should hone in on Brown’s tactics for so many reasons. His footwork is exquisite, he has great understanding of how he’s going to be played by defenders, and his development as an off-ball attacker has allowed him to coexist with other elite scorers. He’s a coach’s dream.
We’ll hone in on three ways that Jaylen has maximized his footwork and prepares himself for quick-burst assaults on the basket: his use of the quick rip, how he runs through the ball on the catch, and his incredibly effective pump fake.
All these concepts are aided by the fact Brown is a career 37 percent 3-point shooter. Defenses have to closeout to him and respect that shot, opening up instant attacks that Brown has perfected.
The Celtics are aiming to be just the sixth team in the last 30 years to have three players average at least 20 points. Such a feat is difficult because, well, there’s only one ball. Everyone has to sacrifice a little in order for this to happen.
Brown’s sacrifice is through playing with the ball in his hands less than everyone else. He’s perfected how to thrive in that role.