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Jamba 7uice: the many flavors of Jaylen Brown’s mid-range game

Jaylen Brown has turned himself into one of the best mid-range scorers in the NBA.

2022 NBA Finals Practice and Media Availability Photo by Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images

Doesn’t it feel like every elite mid-range shooter has a go-to shot? The Dirk one legged fade, MJ’s soft righty fall-away, the KD hesi pullup jimbo, or Kyrie’s flurry of dribble moves into a pullup. Of the 77 players that have attempted 50 or more mid-range jumpers this season, Jaylen Brown is 4th in percentage at a blistering 54.2%. Only Kevin Durant has taken more mid-range jumpers and is making them at a higher clip than Brown. It’s safe to say he has worked himself into the top of the elite mid-range scorers in the NBA. I mean look at this shot chart. Is being green everywhere inside the arc any good? Yes. Yes it is.

It begs the question, what is Jaylen Brown’s signature mid-range move?

The answer is a pretty anticlimactic, at least in my opinion. He doesn’t have one. And yes, I just posed a question as a premise for an article and then didn’t answer it. As Walt Whitman once didn’t say, “that’s writing, baby!”

Instead of a signature move, Jaylen, aka 7uice (pronounced “juice” for my fellow out of touch older folks), has a menu of mid-range moves, and he’s completely comfortable with all of them. So please, come browse all of the smoothie flavors at Jamba 7uice, where mid-range is made (trademark pending).

Strawberries Gone Bananas

Move: back to the basket fade

Just like the strawberry banana smoothie, the back to the basket fade is a classic. Every mid-range dynamo in history had this shot in the bag. Jaylen is no exception. Here’s a video of him making a bunch of them.

The somewhat unique aspects of Jaylen’s back to the basket fade are two-fold. First, he’s an elite athlete so not only can he stop on a dime, like in that first shot, but he can rise up over just about anyone. He doesn’t take these shots out of post ups, but instead takes them when his drive is cut off. Then, it’s a series of pivots against a flat-footed defender that he easily rises up.

What makes it so difficult to stop is the second bit -- he can shoot it off either shoulder. In other words, he can shoot it spinning right or left, and he’s just as effective going either direction. Take the shot against the Thunder for instance. Jaylen gets a feed in the lane and Shai Gilgeous Alexander just barely leans and swipes down to take away Jaylen going left, then boom, he’s hit with the fall away going the other direction. Two points. This is the foundation of Jaylen’s mid-range game, but there is so much more.

Peanut Butter and Banana Protein

Move: crossover pull-up

A classic combo of flavors for a classic combination of moves.

Much has been made about Jaylen’s loose ball control when he drives into a crowd, but the same concerns don’t rear their head when he’s isolating on the perimeter. In fact, his burst is so incredible and his first step so electric, he doesn’t even have to go into anything fancy to get up an open shot. As simple hard overhand cross, let the defender stumble away like a drunk that just got tossed out of a bar, and then, bang, easy two. If you try to take this shot away, he just blows by you. Smoother than creamy peanut butter.

Watermelon Breeze

Move: cut into space catch and shoot

This is my favorite type of mid-range shot that Jaylen takes, and you’re not gonna believe this, my favorite flavor of smoothie. I find this particular play type to be somewhat unique to Jaylen Brown (and Jayson Tatum). The Celtics as a team have taken 47 catch and shoot 2s this year. Jaylen’s taken 15 of them and Tatum 18. What Jaylen does so well, and it can be especially useful against teams that pack the paint, is cut into these little pockets of space.

Jaylen gets a lot of flak for having a low basketball IQ, but these plays are anything but. Specifically, watch when he times the cut, it’s right as his defender turns their head to watch the ball or sinks into a deep help position. By the time they locate Jaylen, he’s already on the catch ready to rise and fire for 2. My only wish is that he did this more often.

Matcha Green Tea Blast

Move: Footwork step-through

Matcha tastes like dirty feet, so it’s fitting that we compare Jaylen’s powerful step-throughs to a smoothie based off of it. Every great mid-range game relies on elite footwork and Jaylen is no exception. DeMar Derozan is probably the current belt holder for best mid-range footwork, Kobe the previous champ, and Jordan the Bill Goldberg of the analogy. The combination of balletic foot movement and brute strength on these two shots is poetry in motion.

It seems nearly impossible that he carves out the space to take a shot, and even more outrageous is that he makes them. He’s stopped, without a dribble, and all of his teammates are standing flatfooted. Naturally, that’s two points. There’s not a lot of guys in the NBA capable of turning these types of dead possessions into buckets. Luckily, the Celtics have two of them.

Pumpkin Smash

Move: Escape dribble fall-away

A unique smoothie for a unique move. Pumpkin flavor is great when I’m in the mood, and Jaylen only busts this out at very specific moments, which are rare (twice against the Lakers oddly enough). I admittedly don’t watch full games of other teams every night, but I have watched a lot of basketball in my life, the Celtics and otherwise. I’ve never seen a player willingly take a hard escape dribble into the middle of the paint, snag the ball, and then leap backwards for a fade that he then makes. I mean, look at how weird this is (especially the first one, it’s like he’s tossing the ball forwards to start a fastbreak the other way).

It’s no wonder he doesn’t go to it often. There’s a lot of risk taking such a pronounced dribble into the teeth of the defense. But man, when it works, it is oh so pretty.

In fact, you could probably sum up a lot of Jaylen’s game that way. The mid-range jumper is the least efficient shot in basketball, but it sure does look good when it goes. I’ll add that even if it’s not highly efficient, the rate at which Jaylen makes them creeps the shot up into decent efficiency territory. There’s tremendous value in having a player that can get a relatively efficient shot at will, regardless of shot clock or the man guarding him. Shot creation is the most coveted skill in the NBA, and Jaylen Brown has a whole smoothie shop full of it.

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