Celtics

20 Under 25: Jaylen Brown enters critical 2019-20 season with Celtics

20u25_brown.jpg
NBC Sports Boston Illustration

20 Under 25: Jaylen Brown enters critical 2019-20 season with Celtics

People often say “the sky’s the limit” to describe a young player. Is it a fair label for Jaylen Brown? 

The perception of the 22-year-old Brown is ever-changing. First he was a reach of a draft pick, then he was a steal and a star in the making. An-up-and down third season was an overall step back statistically, so what is he now and, more importantly, what will he be going forward? 

A lot depends on where one places the blame for that third season, which saw his minutes and points dip. Brown could have been a victim of the Celtics’ plethora of options or his development simply could have stalled. 

If you feel it’s the former, the bad news is that Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier and Al Horford leaving doesn’t really solve that on paper. The Celtics still have wings with whom Brown will have to coexist — most notably, Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward. 

Brown went from averaging 14.5 points a game in his second season to averaging 13.0 last season. His postseason points went down from 18 a night to 13.9. Those numbers will have to come up, especially considering Brown is going into the last season of his rookie contract. 

In a league taken over by power-duos, the perceived pair for the Celtics is Kemba Walker and Tatum. Yet is it really outside the realm of possibility that Brown, who’s got one more season under his belt, has a better season than Tatum? 

Brown’s got All-Star talent, but trying to project if and when he reaches his ceiling is what makes him one of the more intriguing players in the NBA. 

Click here to see this year's candidates for the 20 Under 25 list

Click here to vote for this year's 20 Under 25

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Isaiah Thomas jokingly vows to never play defense again after thumb injury

Isaiah Thomas jokingly vows to never play defense again after thumb injury

Isaiah Thomas' latest attempt to return to NBA stardom suffered a setback this week when he suffered a thumb injury, which is expected to keep him sidelined for six to eight weeks.

The veteran point guard, who signed with the Washington Wizards in July, tweeted Wednesday he suffered the injury playing defense. 

You have to give Thomas credit for injecting a little humor into what is obviously a difficult situation for him.

Thomas quickly became a beloved figure in Boston despite his short tenure with the Celtics. He suffered a hip injury playing for the C's during the 2016-17 season, and he was dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of the trade that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston in August of 2017. Thomas has struggled to stay healthy and regain his All-Star form since that trade, and the the Wizards will be his fourth team since leaving Boston.

It's safe to say the basketball world is rooting hard for Thomas to make a successful comeback from his latest injury.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who visits the hardware store?

my_post_89.jpg
USA TODAY Sports photo

Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who visits the hardware store?

For Day 3 of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our panel to take a trip to the hardware store and predict which Celtics player might bring home some of the NBA’s hardware by winning a postseason award.

Outside of maybe only Most Valuable Player, there’s an argument to be made that a Celtics player, coach, or executive could muscle their way into the conversation for the league’s other top honors. Alas, you’d have to rewind to the 2007-2008 season to find the last time the Celtics found themselves in that spotlight when Kevin Garnett won Defensive Player of the Year and Danny Ainge was Executive of the Year.

Celtics players haven’t muscled their way into the voting much in recent seasons. Last year, only Marcus Smart charted on an award while finishing eighth in Defensive Player of the Year. Jayson Tatum was third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2017-18, while Al Horford was fifth in Defensive Player of the Year balloting that season. Isaiah Thomas was fifth in both MVP and Most Improved voting for the 2016-17 campaign.

But if the Celtics are to outkick most prognosticator’s expectations this season, they’ll need someone on their roster to at least vault into the conversation for these awards.

So who is most likely to earn themselves a shiny trophy?

Our vote went to Marcus Smart for Sixth Man of the Year. With the glut of wing depth this season, we believe there’s a strong chance that Smart will initially shuffle back to his familiar bench role, allowing coach Brad Stevens to trot out a versatile starting lineup featuring Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and a big (with Enes Kanter the early favorite to hold that starter job initially).

Stevens has long preferred to deploy Smart in a reserve role, allowing Smart to set the tone for the second unit while also providing another ball-handler for the second group. The Celtics went away from that last season when Smart elevated from a bench role in November and started 60 games overall. Kyrie Irving routinely advocated for Smart, noting how much he enjoyed playing alongside him at the start of games, which only solidified Smart’s spot with the first unit.

A similar script could certainly unfold this season. But it would be the most Marcus Smart thing if he’s the player that embraces shuffling to the second unit and allows Hayward, Tatum, and Brown to play with the first group.

Yes, the Sixth Man award tends to honor a high-scoring player on one of the league’s top teams. But if the Celtics overachieve this season, there will be extra attention on the player(s) that spearheaded the second unit. Smart, with his All-Defense pedigree and improving offensive efficiency, could dive into the conversation for Sixth Man the same way he pounces on a loose ball.

Abby Chin: Gordon Hayward, Sixth Man of the Year

I believe Hayward will be almost — if not fully — back to his Utah self this season. But, with the glut of talent on the wing, and Hayward's ability to facilitate the offense on that second unit, it might make the most sense for him to come off the bench again. I think Hayward will finish games on the court, he just may not start there.

 

Sherrod Blakely: Brad Stevens, Coach of the Year

The Celtics will finish with a record that exceeds the expectations of many, and will include wins over East favorites Philly and Milwaukee.

 

Max Lederman: Gordon Hayward, Most Improved

Hayward has been in the lab all summer working on getting back to the player he was before the injury. He had a few flashes last season, but was a shell of his former self. I know this award tends to go to a young breakout player but I think a really strong start to the season could make some folks consider taking a different approach with their votes.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.