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New Skills Week: will adding a tighter handle be worth the $300+ million for Jaylen Brown?

How high can we project the superstar’s impact for next season?

2023 NBA Playoffs - Miami Heat v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Jaylen Brown, Shooting Guard

Relevant Details: 6’6”, wears #7. Owner of the most expensive piece of paper in NBA history.

High-end prediction: Armed with 300 million dollars, Brown takes another leap, shoring up his handle and cementing himself as one of the ten most dominant players in the league. He joins Jayson Tatum on the All-NBA First Team, becoming the first teammates to do that since Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

Reasonable prediction: Because of his durability, he easily clears the 65-game threshold for All-NBA honors and earns another Second Team nod. No one really thinks he’s a bona fide top ten guy, but he continues to be the premier second option in the NBA. A cleaner dribble assures Celtics fans of the price the team paid for his services, but nothing truly revolutionary happens.

Low-end prediction: History repeats itself, and Jaylen finishes up the trilogy of turnover-happy postseasons. Gone are the days when Celtics fans were worried Brown wouldn’t re-sign. Now, they are left wondering if the team should have re-signed him at all.

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Six Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Brown’s 2023-2024 season will be defined by three words: “are we sure?”

Are we sure he is good enough to be the second-best player on a title team? Are we sure he was worth all $300+ million of guaranteed money the Celtics shelled out for him? Are we sure he even likes it in Boston?

My answer to all three of those questions is… probably yes.

But probably is a hard word to stomach, especially for a team perennially knocking on the door of an NBA title. Nevertheless, Jaylen Brown is the most important player on the Celtics.

(audible gasp)

He’s not the best player, nor is he going to be taking the last shot with a playoff game on the line—that would be Marcus Sm…I mean Jayson Tatum.

But with Smart gone, Brown is now the straw that stirs the drink, which for the last few years has tasted like an artificially sweetened Coke Zero that someone left open on the window sill all day. For a moment, you don’t even realize it’s not real sugar. But then the aftertaste comes, and over time the bubbles go flat. The sun torches the cold, crisp taste and turns it into a syrupy, lukewarm mess.

The Celtics have come within seven total games of a championship in the two years combined. Inevitably, one starts asking questions as to how to win said games.

Those questions have often caught Jaylen directly in the crosshairs. Can he dribble left? Is he really worth all that money?

That all sounds very negative, but don’t mistake questions for an identifiable issue. Jaylen isn’t the Celtics’ biggest problem, but rather their biggest question mark. Because he’s so critically important—but not quite non-negotiable like Tatum—the questions swirling about Brown feel like they have world-ending consequences.

Of course, they don’t have world-ending consequences. This is basketball, not a world war, and it’s certainly worth wondering if the scrutiny levied on Jaylen is actually all that proportional. So for now, I’m done asking questions. Let’s see it.

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