Before most games you’ll find Jaylen Brown huddled up with an assistant coach watching video of himself. He’ll see the great moves he makes to the basket, or his hustle being rewarded with a loose ball for the Celtics.
But he’s more consumed by the images of a blown defensive assignment or the rebound he didn’t grab because he was out of position.
Those latter points are what drives him to continue working towards improving his overall game in this still-young stage of his NBA journey.
And that work has paid off of late for the 20-year-old rookie whose play has earned him more minutes of late.
One of the domino effects of Isaiah Thomas being out with a right groin injury, has been an increase in the minutes for Brown.
“Minutes opened up and I think I’m getting better,” Brown told CSN's Abby Chin on Wednesday. “When opportunity meets hard work, that’s when success happens. So I’ve been trying to keep working, waiting for my opportunity and seizing them.”
He hopes to continue along those lines tonight when the Celtics face the San Antonio Spurs who will be a bit short-handed with LaMarcus Aldridge (rest) not playing.
The No. 3 pick in last June’s NBA draft, Brown showed promise as a scorer from the outset.
But lately, Brown’s ability to pick up and execute what the Celtics are looking for defensively has been a huge factor in the coaching staff feeling more confident in leaving him on the floor for extended minutes.
Brown believes he has made significant strides as a defender from the start of the season until now.
“It takes experience to see things a few times, to kind of get it,” Brown said. “It’s a different game than college. It’s a constant adjustment. At times earlier I could see myself allowing people to get easy baskets because my body position wasn’t where it needs to be or my technique wasn’t the right way. Once you see it a few times you improve and learn from your mistakes. I made some mistakes earlier that I’m not making now. I just want to keep improving.”
And he has, especially the last five games.
In that span, he has averaged 21.2 minutes per game in which he has averaged 8.2 points while shooting 59.3 percent from the field and 57.1 percent on 3s.
No one anticipates he’ll maintain those numbers for the rest of the season, but even if he’s within 10 percentage points in each of those categories, which is possible, he would end his rookie season with numbers similar to San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard who is a player Brown has said on more than one occasion, that he looks up to.
As a rookie with the Spurs, Leonard averaged 7.9 points while shooting 49.3 percent from the field and 37.6 percent on 3’s while playing 24 minutes per game.
“His game, how he carries himself; doesn’t really say anything,” Brown said of Leonard. “He just plays basketball; keeps his head down … it’s something to admire. I like the way he plays, both sides of the ball; he competes. He’s definitely somebody I look up to.”