Celtics

Celtics-Bulls overreactions: Brown should be in MVP debate after hot start

Celtics

The Boston Celtics' star duo is together again.

Jayson Tatum returned to Boston's lineup Monday night after missing the last five games. He scored 24 points in 31 minutes as the Celtics beat the Bulls 119-103 in Chicago. His star teammate, Jaylen Brown, added 26 points in another excellent performance.

Up next for the Celtics is a Wednesday night matchup against the Spurs in San Antonio.

Before we get ready for that game, let's look at three overreactions from Monday's contest and assess their merit.

1. Jaylen Brown should be a legit MVP candidate.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

Few players have shown more improvement this season than Celtics star Jaylen Brown. 

The 24-year-old guard scored a team-high 26 points on 10-of-21 shooting against the Bulls, including a 14-point surge in the third quarter that helped Boston grow its lead to double digits.

Brown entered Monday averaging a career-high 27.3 points per game, which also leads the C's and is a seven-point increase from his output last season. He's scored 30-plus points five times and 40-plus points twice in the first 16 games of the season. Brown has totaled 101 points in 85 minutes over the last three matchups.

He's carried the Celtics offensively since opening night, and especially during the stretches where Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum were out of the lineup for multiple games. His defense and rebounding have been very good, too.

Brown probably won't win the MVP. Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is on fire and nearly averaging a triple-double. Brown should at least be part of the debate, though.

 

2. Aaron Nesmith soon will be a key part of the C's rotation.

Verdict: Overreaction

Nesmith came into the league with a reputation as a sharpshooter, but he struggled from 3-point range early in the season by hitting just four of his first 18 attempts. He's since connected on six of his last 10 3-point shots, including a 3-of-5 mark Monday night. Nesmith also showed some impressive ability to beat defenders off the dribble and attack the paint.

The Celtics need outside shooting off the bench and Nesmith has the potential to fill that role in the not too distant future, but we need to see him be a lot more consistent offensively before saying he can be a key part of the team's rotation as a rookie. 

3. The Bulls desperately need a true point guard.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

The Bulls have a lot of offensive talent and entered Monday as the fifth-highest scoring team in the league at 116.1 points per game. But this team's offense would be so much more efficient and tougher to guard if it had a true point guard.

Chicago's starting backcourt is Coby White at point guard and Zach LaVine at shooting guard. Both players are shoot-first guards, and that's the role they thrive in. They are not great facilitators, and that was evident against the Celtics when LaVine and White combined for just four assists and eight turnovers. 

The Bulls are not a legit contender in the Eastern Conference this season. For this franchise to return to that level, it must add a veteran point guard before the 2021-22 campaign. White has a promising future, but asking him to be a primary ball-handler is not ideal for Chicago. He should be a shooting guard long term.