Until this season, Marcus Smart owned the crown of being the Boston Celtics' most controversial player. You either loved him or loathed him. There was a fair mix between the fanbase. However, with Smart now out west, Jaylen Brown has taken the crown, and the criticism has been rolling in.
After signing a $304 million supermax, the pressure on Brown’s shoulders was bound to increase. For some, the money a player earns should be directly linked to his performance level on the court. That’s not how the NBA works, though — even if it’s how many would prefer it to be.
Brown’s role has undergone a significant change this season. There are more mouths to feed, and the offense has altered his approach. Like with most players, Brown’s start to the season has been patchy. There have been moments of elite-level play and some incredible shot-making. At other times, Brown’s been a net negative on the court and has struggled to find his range or rhythm from the floor.
Despite there being far more good than bad, Brown has continued to receive criticism. His perceived inability to dribble left has become a narrative the Celtics fans can’t let go. Every turnover is scrutinized, and every missed shot is questioned.
Of course, some believe Brown is being unfairly treated. No matter what he does, some sections of the fanbase are simply resigned to moving on from the All-NBA wing when the chance next arises. When looking at these types of arguments, the truth often lies somewhere in the middle.
Perhaps Brown could be better when creating out of the pick-and-roll or when tasked with leading the second unit. And, perhaps fans that are lower on him are being unrealistic with their expectations — especially on a roster that boasts All-Stars in multiple positions.
In the latest episode of the Green With Envy podcast, myself and Greg Maneikis try to dive into the discourse surrounding Brown with the aim of looking at the argument from all angles. We look at his line-up data to begin the season, his ability to create in on-ball situations and why there’s more to playmaking than setting up assists for your teammate. We discuss his defense and upside and ways the coaching staff are getting the best out of him or could look to tweak the system to put him in better spots.
Brown is one of the most talented players in the NBA. He’s also one of the best athletes in the league. His presence on the Celtics roster undoubtedly raises the team's ceiling. His fit on the roster has been in question for multiple years. Yet, when you have an elite talent, figuring out how to put them in a position to succeed is on the coaching staff and front office.
The discourse will continue throughout the season, like it or not. But we tried our best to determine how much of it was fair and what wasn't.