PLYMOUTH, Mass. -- Jaylen Brown had a good summer for the Boston Celtics, showcasing many of the skills that made them more than comfortable with selecting the 19-year-old with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft.
But Brown’s indoctrination to the NBA will be different -- radically different -- than most players picked so close to the top of the draft board.
Often those players come into the NBA with 20 minutes per game just waiting for them. Brown won’t be that lucky, not with him playing for a Celtics team that has been to the playoffs each of the last two seasons and is considered by most NBA pundits and experts to be one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference.
For a rookie, that’s so not a good thing from a get-on-the-floor-from-Day-One standpoint.
But it does put Brown up against seasoned, battle-tested players who have enjoyed both individual and team success in the NBA, the kind of building blocks that in grand scheme of things should make him a better player.
“He’s a young guy in a man’s league,” coach Brad Stevens said on Wednesday at the Shamrock Foundation’s Teeing Up for Kids Golf Tournament at the Old Sandwich Golf Club. “He’s got to get a lot better. Time will tell with him, but he certainly has a high upside.”
That was on display this summer with Boston’s Summer League team, when Brown’s attacking style of basketball led to more than 10 free-throw attempts per game in Salt Lake City and helped the Celtics go undefeated.
No one expects him to get to the line that much during the regular season even if he played starter-like minutes, which is unlikely to happen. But he will be expected to compete, something the Celtics have no doubts about happening.
And don’t think for a minute they'll take it easy on him just because he’s 19 years old.
When asked about the balancing act of acknowledging that he’s a teenager but in a man’s league, Stevens replied, “There’s no balance."
He added, “You can either add value or you can’t. That’s the reality of the situation. We’re in a really good spot where he’s going to be challenged every day in practice to grow and get better. The guys that have been around, there’s nothing better for him than to play against Jae Crowder or play against Avery Bradley or playing against Marcus [Smart] or one of our 4’s (power forwards), whatever the case may be. Those will be good things for him.”
And it all starts next week with training camp.
“There’s a lot that comes at you in a small amount of time,” Stevens said. “Different guys pick it up at different paces. We’ll try our best to make it as simple as possible. At the same time, inevitably when you haven’t been through it before it’s tough.”