In an offensive showcase of a game, Jaylen Brown submitted his credentials as an elite two-way wing. While both Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum were taking turns as the primary scorer, Brown provided the Celtics with a reliable outlet when the Orlando Magic’s defense collapsed on them, finishing the game with a double-double in points and rebounds.
Offensively, Brown was a thorn in the Magic’s side. Throughout the game, the 6’7’ wing displayed his full offensive repertoire, lighting up his opponents with a blend of pull ups, layups, step backs, and fadeaways.
Since entering the bubble, the Celtics have regularly allowed their wings to attack the defense while coming off high screens. Brown provided fleeting glimpses of his ability to operate as a ball-handler within the pick-and-roll. Utilizing a Daniel Theis screen on two separate plays during the second half, Brown demonstrated moves that you would usually see from one of his teammates.
In the first of these two plays, the Golden Bears product does his best rendition of a Kemba Walker pull up three. Coming off the Theis screen, Brown gets to his spot and immediately pulls up from deep, draining the bucket in the process.
On the second play, the 23-year-old wing went into Hayward’s bag. Again coming off the Theis screen, Brown drove into the teeth of the defense, as they collapsed he stopped, pivoted, and proceeded to hit the turnaround fadeaway.
While these are only two plays, it provides an insight into what the future holds for Brown offensively. Theyoung wing has made the most of the All-Star talent around him, picking up their best moves and adding them to his own arsenal.
Outside of those two plays, Brown was able to contribute 19 points to the Celtics total, albeit on a slightly inefficient 7-for-19 from the field. According to Cleaning The Glass, last night was an outlier for Brown’s shooting, with his “bubble average” sitting at 45.5% from the field and 43.8% from deep.
The corner three has been one of Brown’s most deadly weapons over the last six games, scoring 56% of his attempts and ranking in the 86th percentile. However, a well-coached Magic team held the wing to just a single effort from the corner throughout the contest.
Throughout the Celtics opening six games of the restart, when Brown hasn’t attacked deep, he’s getting most of his work done down low, with 32% of his total attempts coming around the rim. Against Orlando, attacking the interior is challenging. They play a strong brand of defense which is anchored by Nikola Vucevic, making it no surprise Brown only ventured to the rim on 21% of his total attempts - making half of them.
Outside of his scoring ventures, the former #3 draft pick was dominant on the boards, finishing with a game-leading 12 rebounds. Over the last six games, Brown has led the team in rebounding twice, once against Miami and then again against Orlando on Sunday.
At 6’7, his rebounds can be attributed to both defensive positioning and effort. On multiple possessions, Brown positioned himself between the help-lines and anticipated the miss, allowing him to use his superior athleticism to rise and secure the rock.
There were also times when the rock had an unfriendly bounce, leading to a hustle play, where Brown would utilize his speed and length to win the Celtics’ possession.
What’s encouraging is that Brown’s ability to put the ball on the floor has continually increased throughout the season, which allows the Celtics to push the tempo once he’s collected the rebound.
Outside of clearing the boards, there were also multiple hustle stats that the Georgia native added to his performance. The most obvious of these stats is Brown’s two steals, both of which came courtesy of closing the passing lanes.
Sometimes it’s not possible to secure the ball, which is then not shown in the general box score. These plays are tracked as a deflection by NBA Stats, under their “hustle” tracker, and Brown racked up three of them to coincide with his successful steals.
The only player to accumulate more deflections for the Celtics on the night was Daniel Theis with 4. On the defensive end, Brown ended the game as the team leader in defensive box outs (three).
Brown has grown into one of the Celtic’s best on-ball defenders, rotating with pace and intent on every possession, which leads to this beauty of a block against the Magic.
The Celtic’s roster is full of star-level talent, with any of four or five players capable of going for 20 on a given night. What’s encouraging about Brown’s recent games is that he’s now finding ways to impact winning without dominating the score sheet.
Brown has shown growth in his skill set to provide the Celtics with added firepower without the need to dominate the ball, from hustle plays to offering a reliable outlet option in the corner.
On some nights, Brown will need to lead the line and be the team’s Batman, on others operating as Robin will suffice. However, when Brown serves as the team’s Robin, the hustle stats and rebounding numbers make up for his drop in scoring production.