Well, Wednesday night’s game against the Sixers is exactly what we worry about as Jaylen Brown fans. He shot 4-for-13 from the field, but a couple of those makes were late threes which bailed out his scoring line. Aside from a couple early shot clock threes and pull ups, though, most of those 13 attempts were solid looks that he’ll normally make at a higher clip, which makes me less worried about his low offensive output. He’s a good shooter, and he’ll be getting more open threes this season than ever before. I think he’ll eventually take advantage of those opportunities, and water will find its level.
However, the most concerning part about Jaylen’s game was the four turnovers – more specifically, the nature of those four turnovers. The same problems that have, at times, haunted Brown in recent years – decision making, dribbling in traffic, left hand, etc. – have clearly not been fixed.
It’s certainly more nuanced than something as simple as “if Jaylen didn’t work on his dribbling this offseason, what did he work on?” But, there is some justification to the question. It’s been an Achilles’ heel for him in recent years, and it doesn’t seem like something that’s being improved upon too heavily. It should, however, be the main focus of Brown’s offseason, as it’s the overwhelmingly obvious hole in his game.
This play is genuinely reminiscent of middle school rec league ball. There are multiple opportunities before Jaylen crosses halfcourt to make a simple bounce pass over the timeline, but he opts to dribble through two solid defenders instead. It’s lazy, it’s selfish, and it’s just a low-IQ basketball play. And if he were that good of a ball handler, he could pull it off – but he isn’t.
The dreaded left hand. Unfortunately, this clip is a pretty perfect illustration of the exact type of play that has plagued Jaylen Brown for years now. First of all, he shouldn’t even really be attacking this aggressively in the first place; Embiid is right in the middle of the paint, and Jaylen still drives at both him and Melton. I would prefer him to slow the ball down, and look to somebody trailing behind the play above the break. Embiid is in the paint, which means Horford should be able to step into open space. But more importantly, it’s just an example of his lacking handle. He should be able to spin in the lane with more control, but he completely loses the ball.
Here’s the other problem with Jaylen. When his shot isn’t falling, it unequivocally impacts other parts of his game. He starts forcing the issue instead of making the easy, simple, and correct play. That’s exactly what happened on this play, where Brown lowers his shoulder in an attempt to assert his physicality, but is just being overly aggressive and should probably look for the kick-out pass and repost.
Jaylen Brown can be a creator, but on this team he really doesn’t have to be. He’s less effective as a half court ball-handling maestro than he is as a downhill attacking freight train, and he needs to realize that. The moments where he’s at his best are when defenders are backing up in transition or semi transition and Jaylen is able to come at them with a head of steam and space to operate. He’s leading the NBA in transition possessions per game, and those possessions are worth a respectable 1.14 points.
More notably, Brown has a lower turnover percentage on these possessions (5.4%) than anyone in the top-10 volume-wise. When he’s in these situations, he’s a lot more reliable with the ball in his hands. If he can stick to being a transition killer while also manufacturing more opportunities without the ball on offense (back-cutting, slashing, etc.), he can finally reach his potential with this stacked Celtics team. It might take some sacrifice, but he has to do it if he wants to win a chip.