BOSTON – Jaylen Brown has been one of his team’s go-to players for most of his basketball life.
And while the talented second-year wing has shown potential to someday deliver in a similar fashion in the NBA, he knows his job – for now at least – is to be a role player.
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Brown’s role will likely be that of a starter heading into the Celtics' season opener at Cleveland on Tuesday night.
Brown was the only player to start all four preseason games for the Celtics (4-0), averaging 10.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
But Brown’s insertion into the starting lineup with Boston’s Big Three of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, has little to do with his ability to score, something he knows all too well.
“It’s different when you’re playing with three All-Stars on the court at the same time,” Brown said. “Just trying to find out how to be aggressive, but at the same time understand I have to play off those guys. I’ll figure it out.”
Throughout the preseason, Celtics coach Brad Stevens has stressed the importance of Brown needing to play at a high level defensively in order to give the C's what they will need from him.
Known as a slasher with above-average athleticism with highlight-worthy skills when it comes to finishing at the rim, Brown said he and Stevens are on the same page when it comes to defense.
In the preseason, Brown had a defensive rating of 83.3, which was tops among all Celtics who logged at least 20 minutes of court time per game.
What Boston loves about Brown as a defender, is the versatility he has to switch out at seemingly every position and still be able to hold his own.
In Boston’s 108-100 preseason win over Charlotte on Monday, Brown was defending 6-2 Kemba Walker in the third quarter and blocked his shot.
Shortly after that, Brown was matched up with 6-9 Marvin Williams and proceeded to block his shot as well.
When it comes to defense, “it’s part of me,” said Brown who added, “My pride, effort. Defense is part of getting to where I want to be, being an all-star and taking it to the next level, winning a championship, et cetera, etcetera. For now, I’m building the foundation, taking the steps necessary.”
Being an elite defender is a job that isn’t glitzy, and comes with very little glamour.
“I have no problem doing the dirty work,” Brown said.