clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Celtics need Jaylen Brown

For those who want Brown out of Boston, the grass isn’t always greener.

NBA: Playoffs-Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

As Jaylen Brown and the Boston Celtics continue to navigate supermax negotiations this summer, it’s important to maintain perspective.

For many fans, as the days go by without a new deal, paranoia creeps further and further into the forefront of their minds. Despite a myriad of reports stressing that delays in these extensions are typical, at this point, the entire situation feels far from normal.

As the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn reported a few days ago, with Brown having returned from his NBPA retreat in Spain, the two sides are expected to pick up discussions once again this week.

That news garners a sigh of relief from a majority of the fan base, but there is also a large subdivision of Celtics fans who would prefer to see the team move on from Jaylen via trade. To that group, I offer a simple warning: the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Boston Celtics Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s break down why extending Brown is important for Boston.

The negatives have been overblown

By now, every Celtics fan with a Twitter account has seen the compilation of Brown turning the ball over while dribbling to his left that began circulating following Boston’s Eastern Conference Finals loss.

Yes, the video certainly isn’t flattering. However, cherry-picking clips to build a narrative has only made fans more susceptible to falling into one of the biggest traps in basketball: recency bias.

Turnovers — and specifically decision-making turnovers — are something Brown has to work on, but they aren’t the end of the world as some people claim to be the case. Let’s take a step back and add some context.

Brown averaged a career-best 26.6 points per game last season. That ranked NINTH among leading scorers in the NBA. It was great to see Jaylen take that step forward, especially considering his expanded usage rate, which ranked 12th among qualifying players at 30.7%.

So, Jaylen had the ball in his hands a LOT last season. Based off the aforementioned Twitter video, one would assume that he’s also turning it over at an alarming rate, right?


Brown was tied for 26th in turnovers per game in 2022-23 with just 2.9, among the likes of Domantas Sabonis, Jrue Holiday, and his running mate, Jayson Tatum.

In the playoffs, that number did increase, but not by as much as you would expect, as the star averaged 3.3 turnovers per contest. That ranked 15th among his peers in the postseason.

Losing the ball is still a concern for Brown — I’m not arguing against that. It’s just being overblown quite a bit in this case.

Personally, one area I’d like to see significant growth from Brown in is his catch-and-shoot three-point percentage, as he only hit 33.4% of those attempts last season. At this point in his career, it’s fair to assume he’s never going to be an elite long-range shooter, especially considering his shot volume. However, if Jaylen can bump that catch-and-shoot three percentage to even 36%, it would do wonders for his efficiency and Boston’s overall offensive production.

So, now that we’ve established how the negatives of his game have been overblown, why don’t we briefly examine the positives?

As I mentioned earlier, Brown is a top-10 scorer who provides elite talent at the NBA’s most valuable position on the wing. While it’s easy to hark on the recent poor performance in the postseason, have we forgotten his efforts in the 2022 NBA Finals against Golden State? With Jayson Tatum struggling significantly with injuries and confidence, Brown could have packed it in. Instead, he put the offense on his back, averaging 23.5 points per game against the eventual champs. The Celtics ultimately fell short of raising Banner 18, but it wasn’t for lack of Brown trying.

Another important aspect of Jaylen’s game that rarely gets discussed is his willingness to play second fiddle to Tatum. While some still believe he would ultimately like to land in a situation where he could be “the guy,” Brown has done a great job at succeeding within his role as the “1A.” Unlike past players in similar situations, he doesn’t make waves about always giving his fellow star the last shot, even when it should have gone to him.

Simply put, it’s hard to imagine finding a better fit alongside Tatum on this roster.

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Maintaining roster continuity

Speaking of better fits, why don’t we examine what the team could look like if Brad Stevens did decide to trade him.

Firstly, the concept of moving on from Jaylen right now doesn’t make a lot of sense. While some teams may not want to trade for Brown after he signs the supermax due to the massive annual cap hit, he would certainly have more value being locked up long-term than presenting a flight risk to any team acquiring him this offseason with only one year left on his deal.

What could Stevens even realistically get in return for Brown? A 33-year-old Damian Lillard with injury concerns and an albatross of a contract waiting to kick in? Karl-Anthony Towns, who is a fantastic talent but not a great fit on this roster or a “winning” basketball player? A massive haul of draft picks that would just be used to ultimately acquire another star?

There’s no guarantee that the return package for Brown would make Boston a better team. In fact, it’s more likely that it wouldn’t.

Extending Brown isn’t just logical from a fit perspective. It would also play a major role in maintaining roster continuity, which is more important than ever considering the constant flux of Boston’s squad over the years. Coaches have come and gone, the team just traded its “heart and soul” in Marcus Smart, and one of the most beloved locker room guys in Grant Williams departed in free agency.

In order to win a championship, a team needs to build chemistry. Tatum and Brown have already established that and have found consistent success as a result.

While most fans don’t want to hear this, three Eastern Conference Finals appearances and one NBA Finals trip in the last four years indicates success as a basketball team. At least 90% of the league would kill to be in Boston’s situation.

It’s fair to argue that in those four years, despite that relative success, the team hasn’t gotten over the hump. While that is technically true, it doesn’t mean altering the core makeup of the roster by moving on from Brown would result in a better product.

Stevens has made significant changes via the Marcus Smart - Kristaps Porzingis trade this offseason, because he recognizes that this team can win with an improved group AROUND Tatum and Brown, not by splitting them up.

While the idea of acquiring new talent up can be tempting, make no mistake: the Celtics need Jaylen Brown.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Celtics Blog Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Boston Celtics news from Celtics Blog