WALTHAM, Mass. – It was the first official day of Jaylen Brown’s NBA education.
So like most youngsters on the first day of school, he wanted to make a favorable impression.
Showing up three-plus hours early? Yup. That’ll help. But punctuality will only take you so far.
As eager as he is to play, Brown is well aware that much of what he’ll be doing the first few days will be centered around learning.
“It’s a lot of stuff I have to learn,” Brown admitted in an interview with CSNNE.com. “We have a lot of experience on the floor. I want to be a sponge to these older guys as long as I am here. And keep adapting, keep growing every day in practice and get better.”
Having a steady thirst for improvement is an essential for any player coming into the NBA, but especially for a 19-year-old like Brown.
Avery Bradley was the 19th overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft and like Brown, he was just 19 years old coming into the league.
When I asked him what he wishes he knew as a rookie that he eventually learned over time, Bradley was succinct with his answer.
“Confidence,” he told CSNNE.com. “Just having more confidence. I wish I had more confidence in myself.”
Of course if you recall, Bradley spent his rookie season coming off the bench behind Ray Allen, one of the best shooting guards of his era who will someday wind up in the Naismith Hall of Fame.
There were others Bradley had to outperform just to get a shot at playing behind Ray Allen.
“There was Ray Allen, and Delonte West and Von Wafer,” said Bradley who added, “I was behind everybody and then we got Nate Robinson too.”
While the depth chart isn’t quite that deep for Brown, there’s no question he will have to hold his own and probably outplay a couple bodies in order to get a steady diet of playing time as a rookie.
“I love challenges,” Brown said. “This game is a beautiful game. I have a lot of people to compete and challenge me every day. It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to the challenge and looking forward to coming out on top.”
Celtics forward/center Amir Johnson was 18 years old when the Detroit Pistons selected him straight out of high school in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft.
Johnson said he has been impressed with what he has seen from Brown the past couple of weeks during pick-up games and workouts.
And while it helps to have veterans around, Brown’s growth in this league will ultimately come down to how much he’s willing to listen and learn.
“If you’re a teen that wants to work and listen, sit back and be quiet,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “I was that teen willing to listen and learn, willing to do whatever anybody told me to do. I listened to my veterans and my coaches, come in the gym early and stay late. I had a lot of help to get where I’m at today.”
That said, Brown will still have his naysayers who will focus on his youth, inexperience along with Boston’s depth as reasons for him to not do much early on his career.
Bradley knows a thing or two about that.
In Bradley’s second year with the Celtics he was in the starting lineup ahead of Allen which was one of many roles Bradley has been able to play surprisingly better than anticipated.
Bradley recalls how opposing players often think he is either shorter or doesn’t have as long a wingspan as they would expect.
“That plays to my advantage,” he said. “Everybody thinks I’m short or I’m not long. People are going to say the same thing about Jaylen. A lot of people think he can’t do this, can’t do that. That’s the part about this game I love; you can surprise people and that’s what I think he’s going to do.”