Celtics Question of the Day: Will Jaylen Brown spend time in the D-League?


Celtics Question of the Day: Will Jaylen Brown spend time in the D-League?

From now until the start of Celtics camp, we’ll be asking a Question of the Day about the upcoming season. Today: Will No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown spend time with the D-League Maine Red Claws?

BOSTON – When Jaylen Brown was drafted by the Celtics with the third overall pick last June, he was immediately given a C's baseball cap.
It might not have been a bad idea to give him a reliable GPS too.
Because as we’ve seen under coach Brad Stevens, rookies – regardless of where they are picked - have found themselves making the 100 or so mile drive up Interstate 95 to play with Boston’s Development League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.
In 2014, the Celtics drafted Marcus Smart with the sixth overall pick.
Smart went on to become an All-Rookie second team selection that year, but not before making one D-League appearance in which he had six points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals.
In that same draft, Boston picked James Young with the 17th overall pick.
Young has seen plenty of action with the Red Claws, appearing in 31 games while averaging 18.7 points, 5.4 rebounds while shooting 40.6 percent on 3s.
Unfortunately for him, that success in the D-League has not translated to the NBA, where the third-year wing finds himself not just fighting for playing time but also a roster spot.

The Celtics have 16 players with guaranteed contracts and will have to trade or waive at least one of them before the start of the season. If Boston can’t make a trade, Young would be among those with a guaranteed contract that the Celtics will consider waiving.
The 2015 draft was more of the same with Boston adding Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter with the 16th and 28th overall picks, respectively.
Rozier appeared in 14 games with the Red Claws last season, while fellow rookie Hunter saw action in 8 D-League games.
So what does that mean to Brown?
It means that the D-League will be an option to consider as the season progresses, but don’t be surprised if Brown doesn’t spend a single minute with the Red Claws.
Seeing a highly regarded prospect come into the NBA and play some in the D-League isn’t anything unusual these days.
But when it comes to top-three picks, life in the D-League doesn’t usually make up part of their rookie experience.
In the past 10 drafts prior to last June's picks, only two players (Anthony Bennett and Hasheem Thabeet) were top 3 picks that wound playing in the D-League.
And only Thabeet, the No. 2 overall pick in 2009, saw action in the D-League during his rookie season.
But Brown’s situation is very different than Bennett and Thabeet.
Those two struggled to adjust to the NBA game while playing for teams that at the time, weren’t very good.
The Cleveland team that Bennett played for, finished 10th in the East with a 33-49 record while the Thabeet’s Memphis club finished 10th in the West with a 40-42 record.
Brown joins a Celtics squad that has improved its win total every year under Stevens and has been to the playoffs each of the past two seasons.
In addition, the Celtics added their first impact free agent (Al Horford) who isn’t well past his prime (read: P.J. Brown, Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal, Rasheed Wallace), and are poised to be among the top teams in the East this season.
In addition, Brown will be playing behind Jae Crowder who was one of the NBA’s most improved players a year ago. And on top of that, Boston re-signed Gerald Green whose NBA career began when the Celtics drafted him straight out of high school in 2005.
So, the minutes available to Brown won’t be easy to come by.
But here’s the thing about Brown.
The one thing that is undeniable about him and his game, is that he will bring an elite level of athleticism to the floor which is something the Celtics don’t have much of at any position.
Because of that, Brown getting on to the floor won’t be that big an issue.
The challenge comes in getting him enough minutes to where he can truly develop into a contributor which is why the D-League is an option but in all likelihood not one the Celtics will exercise.

Blakely: Stevens has this coaching in March stuff down

Blakely: Stevens has this coaching in March stuff down

Sometimes we forget that a big part of why Brad Stevens is in Boston is because of what he has done as a coach this time of year.

He led a pair of Butler teams to deep postseason runs before coming up short in a pair of national title games.

Well, he’s embarking on a different kind of March Madness in leading the Celtics to a string of improbable wins, the latest being a 105-100 victory at Portland on Friday night.

It was the kind of victory that when you start to roll out the reasons why Stevens should be this season’s Coach of the Year winner, folks will use the win at Portland as an example.

The Blazers are not only one of the better teams at home, but they came in having won 13 of 14 games with the lone loss coming to Houston, which has the best record in the NBA.

But what made the victory so unexpected was the cut-and-paste lineup Stevens has employed because of a long rash of injuries.

Kyrie Irving missed his fifth consecutive game and is expected to be lost for another three to six weeks after having a procedure to on Saturday to help alleviate some of the soreness in his left knee.

Jaylen Brown has missed several games with a concussion, but he has progressed to where he's now questionable for the game in Sacramento on Sunday night. 

Boston was also without Marcus Smart (right thumb) who won’t be back until sometime in the playoffs.

And that doesn’t factor in Gordon Hayward (dislocated left ankle) or Daniel Theis (torn meniscus, left knee), both out for the season.

It’s easy to chalk up Stevens’ success to great Xs and O’s work.

But he’s doing more than that.

He’s inspiring a level of confidence in players that generated results exceeding all expectations; that is, expectations outside of their locker room.

Even when this team struggled with no clear signs of hope on the horizon, they didn’t blink.

Rather than use their less-than-ideal state as a justification for poor play, they funneled that energy and focus into becoming a better team - not better players, but a better team.

Because frankly, that is what we’ve seen from this group all season. Of course, you have your star in Irving, but this team has been a get-it-done-or-else squad all year that doesn’t get too locked into the success or struggles of any one teammate.

And that has allowed Boston to withstand the kind of injuries to key players that would have crippled many other teams.

But with the lack of bodies, there has been a lack of respect for how good this team really is.

Stevens has tapped into that and used it to help focus this team on playing great and most important, giving themselves a chance to win regardless of the opponent, regardless of how dire a situation may be.

And that has created the kind of March Madness Celtics fans are absolutely lovin’ right now.



Optimism that Kyrie will be back for playoffs

Optimism that Kyrie will be back for playoffs

Kyrie Irving underwent a left knee procedure on Saturday that will keep the five-time All-Star guard out for at least the start of the playoffs.

The Celtics indicated that Irving will be out for 3-6 weeks.

According to the Celtics, the procedure was to remove a tension wire in his left knee. The wire was originally placed there as part of the surgical repair of the fractured patella injury Irving suffered in the 2015 NBA Finals when he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Removing the wire is expected to lessen the irritation it was causing in Irving’s left patellar tendon.

The fractured patella injury from in 2015 has fully healed and, according to the Celtics, Irving’s knee has been found to be “completely structurally sound.”

The timetable for Irving's return is roughly the same as that of Celtics guard Marcus Smart, who last week had surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right thumb. 

Irving, who turned 26 on Friday, finishes his first regular season with Boston appearing in 60 games while averaging 24.4 points per game on a career-best 49.1 percent shooting from the field.