Celtics

Jayson Tatum shining, but Jaylen Brown deserves your attention too

Jayson Tatum shining, but Jaylen Brown deserves your attention too

On any other team, what Jaylen Brown is doing this season would be a dominant storyline.

Brown, however, has been relegated to the shadows in Boston lately amid the Great Jayson Tatum Blossoming of 2020. The 22-year-old Brown has played like an All-Star and yet he’s been upstaged by the 21-year-old who earned an All-Star nod then decided to assert himself as one of the three best players in the Eastern Conference.

With all eyes on Tatum during Boston’s four-game road trip out west, Brown quietly produced four straight games with 20 points or better as the Celtics went 3-1.

Instead of brooding about the lack of attention about his impact, Brown has embraced Tatum’s star turn and what it means for to the bigger picture of Boston’s ability to compete for a title. Brown has seemingly used Tatum’s leap as fuel to keep pushing his own limits.

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Consider this: There are 18 players in the NBA this season averaging better than 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. It’s pretty much the All-Star rosters with a few young stars mixed in, including Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Brown.

Even as Tatum erupts for some loud scoring nights — producing his third game of 30+ point during Wednesday’s trip-ending win over the Jazz — Brown has increased his own scoring average this season and at nearly an identical rate. Both players entered Wednesday’s game having increased their scoring average 7.4 points per game from last season.

Yes, Brown has been the beneficiary of the newfound attention that Tatum is drawing. But he’s had moments where he’s simply taken the baton, too.

Take Wednesday night as an example. Tatum went to the bench with 5 minutes to play in the third quarter and Boston down 1. Brown ignited a little run by feeding Marcus Smart for a reverse layup, then scored 10 of Boston’s next 12 points, all in a 2:36 span, culminating with a nifty stepback jumper to put Boston up 6.

The Celtics are now 23-5 this season when Brown scores 20 points or more. With Kemba Walker sidelined with knee soreness, that's made Brown’s offense all the more important. In typical Brown fashion, he shrugs off his own contributions, telling reporters in Utah after Wednesday’s game that he plans to be even better when the playoffs roll around.

The way that Brown has handled missing out on the All-Star game and being overshadowed by Tatum’s emergence speaks volumes about the player. He’s repeatedly said his focus is on the playoffs and helping Boston chase its loftiest postseason goals.

Brown's emergence deserves your attention, though. After all the frustrations of last season, Brown came back this year eager to showcase his true potential. He’s displayed new tricks, especailly his improved ball-handling and a more disciplined approach to attacking the basket.

Brown’s progress, when coupled with Tatum’s emergence, has altered what the Celtics are capable of this season. Boston will jockey with Toronto down the stretch for the No. 2 seed in the East but, regardless of where the Celtics land, they have the necessary talent to push for a Finals berth so long as the core is healthy.

When the postseason rolls around and defenses put even more attention on Tatum and Walker, Brown’s ability to capitalize on weaker defenders will be pivotal for Boston.

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Brown’s usage rate is up this season but so is his efficiency. Stats site Cleaning the Glass tracks a metric called PSA — points per shot attempt — and Brown is averaging a career-best 118.8, which ranks in the 78th percentile among all wing players. That’s up from 109.6 last year, which ranked in the 55th percentile.

Brown is shooting a career-best 49.4 percent from the floor and a robust 38.1 percent beyond the 3-point arc. His 6.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game are both career highs. Add in inspired defense, routinely checking some of the opponent’s top options, including a lot of bigger bodies, Brown has made an impact at both ends of the court.

According to the NBA’s tracking data, Brown has limited opponents to 43.7 percent shooting this year, or 1.5 percent below those players’ season average. Brown’s versatility has been important, with the NBA’s tracking data suggesting he’s spent just about equal time on guards (47.5 percent of his defensive time) as forwards (45.6), all while logging 6.9 percent of his time on centers.

Like Tatum, the key for Brown is consistency. He’s got to find ways to positively impact winning, even beyond scoring, when Walker is back and Boston has its full complement of wings. But nothing from this season suggests we should expect anything less.

What Brown is doing this year deserves more attention. For as much excitement as there is around Tatum, Boston’s ability to move forward with both young players is an absurd luxury. And it feels like the two have only really scratched the surface on how good they can be.

Brown seems content to simply keep getting better and letting the rest of the league figure out on their own just how impactful he’s become.

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Enes Kanter eats marshmallows off a treadmill in hilarious TikTok video

Enes Kanter eats marshmallows off a treadmill in hilarious TikTok video

If you've been couped up in your home during the COVID-19 pandemic, chances are you've struggled to come up with ways to keep yourself entertained.

Enes Kanter doesn't appear to be having that problem, however.

The Boston Celtics big man has been posting some hilarious videos on TikTok recently, but his latest may take the cake. Kanter spent some of his time in quarantine lining up some mini marshmallows on a treadmill and attempting to get all of them into his mouth.

Bonus points for using the Super Mario 64 soundtrack. Let's just hope the treadmill was wiped down beforehand.

Boston athletes have been all over TikTok since the sports world was put on hold. Boston Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi and Celtics rookie Tacko Fall, in particular, have made some notable videos recently.

Kanter discussed what he's been up to during his quarantine in the latest episode of The Enes Kanter Show. Subscribe and listen here.

It's a matter of when, not if, Jaylen Brown will be an NBA All-Star

It's a matter of when, not if, Jaylen Brown will be an NBA All-Star

BOSTON -- We should have seen this coming from Jaylen Brown. 

It’s not like he didn’t clue us in to how he was built differently than most players coming into the NBA. 

His first NBA start came against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, a game in which Brown showed absolutely no nerves, anxiety or fear of James as he went on to score a then-career-high 19 points in what was his fifth game as a pro. 

From there, Brown continued to show flashes of being an above-average talent, displaying an innate ability to successfully transition to whatever role he’s cast to play. 

With the NBA season at a standstill now, it provides us an opportunity to take in what Brown has done thus far. 

More significantly, it allows us to take inventory on what Brown’s body of work thus far tells us is on the horizon. 

The 23-year-old Brown is on course to establish himself as an All-Star whose strength lies in his versatility to impact the game at both ends of the floor. 

This season, Brown is averaging 20.3 points per game, joining teammates Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker as part of the only trio of NBA teammates this season with each averaging at least 20 points per game. 

Of that threesome, Brown’s inclusion is the most surprising when you consider it wasn’t a given that he would start, let alone drop 20 points a night, at the start of the season. 

A legit case could be made that Brown should have been an All-Star this season, with some surmising a top-two record by the Celtics prior to the break would have been enough to get him in along with Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum. 

But it’s fitting that Brown’s time to shine will have to wait. 

Because on many levels, that’s been the narrative surrounding his NBA career. 

And while it would have certainly deterred some and disappointed others, it only drove Brown to continue working on his game, proving his naysayers wrong - including those who booed Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck when he announced that Boston had selected Brown with the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. 

“Oh, I remember,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston recently. “I definitely remember.”

But instead of dwelling on what has happened, Brown is more locked into what the future holds for both him and the Celtics. 

“Just keep getting better, keep grinding, keep working on all parts of my game,” he said. “That’s what I’ve done, to get where I’m at. So why stop now?”