At the end of the day, NBA players aren’t all that different than you and I when it comes to wanting to see what rookies have to offer.
So, as you might expect, Celtics players were eager to learn what Jaylen Brown had to offer against a real NBA team.
Across the board, they liked what they saw as Brown came off the bench in Boston’s 92-89 loss to Philadelphia and scored eight points, with most coming in the fourth quarter.
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There was indeed some anxiousness early on for Brown, selected by Boston with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft. But those nerves soon gave way to a string of strong plays that included a powerful, one-handed dunk that brought the Mullins Center fans to their feet.
“He had the crowd going crazy, the bench going crazy,” said Terry Rozier, referring to Brown’s fourth-quarter dunk. “That’s something he’s going to be good for doing. He can jump out the gym. He plays very athletic. He’s going to see a lot of minutes this year, I feel.”
That would be unexpected, considering most of the minutes at the small forward position will be logged by Jae Crowder.
But this is where Brown’s versatility comes into the play.
Crowder is only 6-foot-6, but he has shown the ability to play power forward for stretches. And in the Sixers game, Brown saw action at power forward, as well, which he admitted afterwards has not been something he has spent a considerable amount of time working on in training camp.
While it may not necessarily be his natural position, the 6-7 Brown said where he plays on the floor doesn’t matter.
“I’m comfortable at the four (power forward), or wherever coach needs me to play,” Brown said. “It’s part of being versatile; part of versatility is being ready when somebody calls your name. You’re a rookie so you can’t really have any excuses and be like, ‘Nah, I don’t want to play the four (power forward).’ If he wants to play me at the four, I’m down.”
Rozier, selected by Boston with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, liked what he saw from Brown. But as impressed as he was with the rookie’s play, Rozier is confident that Brown’s game will only get better with time.
“Once the game really slows down for him, it’s going to be scary for a lot of people,” Rozier said.