The Boston Celtics are facing high expectations this season, and for them to reach the NBA Finals after coming up just short in recent years, they will need the team's two young stars to take another leap in their development.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the foundation of the Celtics, and both took their performances to new heights last season. Brown was coming off a disappointing third campaign, but 2019-20 saw him set career highs with 20.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game, while also shooting an impressive 38 percent from 3-point range.
On the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast, NBC Sports Boston's Celtics play-by-play voice Mike Gorman explained his optimism about Brown's fifth pro season.
"I think Jaylen is going to have a big year," Gorman said. "Not to take anything away from Jayson, and the eyes are going to be on Tatum to be an elite player -- with the two inches he's grown at 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-10 now -- meanwhile, Jaylen will go out and get you 18 points and 12 rebounds on a nightly basis.
"I think when you're looking at 1-2 punches, you have to start considering these two kids. Obviously, we're not talking about (LeBron) James and (Anthony Davis) out there in L.A., but when you look around the league you don't find too many 1-2 punches where I'd rather take those two guys. Maybe you'll find a better No. 1 guy or a better No. 2 guy, but not a No. 1 and No. 2 together. My expectation levels for them are high, and my expectation level for Jaylen is maybe higher because I think people will be focused on Tatum a little bit and it'll take them a little while to realize how good Brown is."
The Celtics will likely be leaning on Tatum and Brown more than usual to start the 2020-21 season. Veteran forward Gordon Hayward left to join the Charlotte Hornets and Kemba Walker is rightfully being cautious with his knee. As a result, a lot of the offense will flow through Tatum and Brown's ability to shoot from the outside, attack the basket and create shots for teammates as a playmaker.
Brown's ability to have a huge impact at both ends of the floor could make him the team's most valuable player in the upcoming campaign. The expectation is Brown will play at an All-Star level in 2021, and after the improvement he showed last year, there are plenty of reasons to be confident he'll make a similar leap this season.