The Celtics have started maybe a little better than most expected when the news that Kemba Walker would be out until at least January. They also lost Gordon Hayward in the off-season and were said not to have that third scorer to make them an elite team in the Eastern Conference. Now, nine games in to the season, the Celtics sit with a 6-3 record with some solid wins against big time contenders in the East.
There are many different players that are deserving credit for the Celtics solid start, but none are more crucial to the life line of this team than Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. They have put in consistent and impressive performances on an every night basis. The Jays are looking like they are taking yet another step up in their development this season.
One night, it is a 30-point game for Brown, then the next night it is a 40-point game from Tatum. Tatum and Brown became the first Celtics teammates to both score 200 or more points since Larry Bird and Kevin McHale.
The maturation of both these players’ games has been on display for some time, but it is great to just sit back in games where the Celtics rely on them and watch them work. Specifically with Jaylen Brown, he has gotten into a rhythm this season that has put him in some early conversations for the Most Improved Player Award. So far this season, Brown is averaging 10.4 field goals made on 19.1 shots per game, averaging an impressive 26.2 points. This is up from his highest attempts per game which was 15.6 last season.
The interesting piece is that Jaylen Brown is scoring more from two-point range than behind the arc. Looking at the numbers, he is taking 70.3% of his attempts from two and 29.7% from three. Brown has always gotten into his groove by finding his spots in his pull-up game, but this season it has been amplified. He stretches out his range to shoot from three at a career high 41.2%.
This clip right here shows how Jaylen Brown gets going and finds his rhythm. It is an easy tell for him to see if he will put up big numbers because in the first few minutes he always attempts to find the spots on the floor where he can get comfortable. After he hits the first few, the sky is the limit in this game. It is this massive lift that has helped the Celtics on offense. Without Jaylen Brown putting up early career numbers, this Celtics’ start would not have been possible.
As for the other partner of this dynamic duo, he is also seizing this opportunity and putting up big time numbers as well. Jayson Tatum’s numbers this season are better than any year, putting up highs in field goal percentage and attempts, points, rebounds and assists per game. Even as the NBA community was in awe by what he had done in his first three seasons, Tatum has raised the bar once again playing as the star for this team.
He has really focused on his on-ball scoring going one-on-one with defenders. This is normally condemned in the NBA as coaches want more ball movement to create the shot, however, the superstars in the league are the ones who can take the possession over and create on their own. He clears out the rest of the team and goes to isolation offense. His patented side-step jumper has worked on many defenders over the time.
These two clips show exactly that. It is fascinating to watch Tatum’s craft as he lulls the defender into thinking he is going to drive only to take the hard dribble to the side-step shooting motion.
The trajectory of Tatum’s game will be exciting to watch. He currently is just tapping into some other aspects of his game such as driving to the paint. It has been an up and down ride with him trying to get to the free throw line, but the strength and size is there to bully some defenders.
For Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, it is officially their team to lead. Kemba Walker is still going to be a key piece in a late playoff run, but these two are young and locked into the franchise’s future success. It is crazy to think they are only 22 and 24 and have so much more in their development. Plus, their bond off the court is just as strong. Tatum and Brown are one of the best duos in the league, and the Boston Celtics are lucky to have them.