Part One here
Jaylen Brown saved his best start of the season for a February 26 game against the Pistons.
He turned in solid numbers — 13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals. It was his fourth quarter shot, though, that made him the top highlight video on NBA.com the next day.
“DETROIT – Jaylen Brown planted his feet beyond the 3-point arc in the right corner Sunday night, waiting for his opportunity,” the Celtics team news blog wrote.
“Down by one point with 37 seconds remaining, Boston had plenty of veterans it could have turned to during the crunch time situation. However, it was the team’s youngest member that got the call.
“Al Horford drove from the top of the key and kicked it out to Brown in the corner. Without hesitation, the rookie rose up off the catch and sunk the 3-pointer while drawing a foul.
“The shot put Boston on top 98-96, and the C’s would not relinquish that lead as they went on to win, 104-98.
Rook to corner 3
Jaylen Brown hits the clutch three pointer! Celtics ended up beating the Pistons 104-98. pic.twitter.com/l6TgI2cA4C
— Leading NBA (@LeadingNBA_) February 27, 2017
(Brown was fouled on the play by a man now more familiar to Celtics fans: Marcus Morris.)
“Rook to corner 3!,” teammates celebrated in the locker room — a nod to Brown’s aficion for chess. Chris Forsberg of ESPN wrote:
“Boston coach Brad Stevens remained emphatic that rookie development extends beyond playing time, even as he did his best to find consistent minutes for Brown. When starting shooting guard Avery Bradley injured his Achilles tendon in early January, Stevens leaned more heavily on Brown. And when it became evident that Boston benefited more from keeping third-year guard Marcus Smart with the second unit, Brown ultimately elevated to Bradley’s starting job.
“On Sunday night in Detroit, Brown produced the signature moment of his rookie season. The ball swung his way in the final minute with Boston trailing by one. Brown calmly drained a corner 3-pointer — while being fouled. Brown hit the shot with 37 seconds remaining to help the Celtics escape The Palace at Auburn Hills with a 104-98 triumph over the Pistons.”
A glance at the Celtics shooting during the string of starts by Brown suggests that the Pistons performance was hardly a fluke. Brown’s efficiency steadily rose as one moved from “garbage time” situations (one team with a huge lead) to “normal.” He became still more efficient up through “clutch,” and “clutch squared.” (Clutch squared situations are very-late-in-game shots where a make or miss essentially is likely to determine the game.)
(Click table for larger view in a new window.)
Jaylen Brown’s shooting efficiency rose throughout a year of fast development. For the year as a whole, his true shooting percentage was 53.9; after, 57.9. But he also shot much better in 20 games as a starter (57.3 percent), and in 27 games in which he was given substantial time on the floor (true shooting of 59.5 percent when playing 20 minutes or more in the game.)
The end of the streak
The return of Avery Bradley brought Brown’s role as a starter to a close. It may probably also played a role in some mutual frustration between Brown and Marcus Smart, whose minutes were naturally reduced.
Still, for a key stretch of the season, Brown not only helped hold the fort — he helped (metaphor crossover alert) helped right the ship.
With Jaylen Brown as starter, the Celtics were 13-4 in calendar 2017… 11-2 as a starter with Horford and Thomas in the lineup.
And he gave Celtic fans a taste of both his impressive athleticism, and his controlled ferocity and resolve.
“I’ve worked on my shot because that’s what people have been critiquing me on my whole life,” he said after the Pistons game.
“I’ve gotten a lot better at it and I continue to get better at it. I’m not a guy that’s going to shoot ten 3s a game –- I like to get to the basket. But some of those shots I do gotta take. Some of those shots I gotta let fly.”
Make no mistake. Aslan is on the march.
And Jaylen Brown is rising.