Celtics

What's Jaylen Brown's value? Re-do of 2016 NBA Draft offers measuring stick

What's Jaylen Brown's value? Re-do of 2016 NBA Draft offers measuring stick

The best players from the 2016 NBA Draft class are beginning to get paid. Is Jaylen Brown next?

That's the (100) million-dollar question in Boston ahead of Monday afternoon's deadline for teams to offer contract extensions to players ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Buddy Hield reportedly agreed to a four-year contract with the Sacramento Kings on Monday that includes $86 million guaranteed and could reach $106 million with incentives.

Hield joins Ben Simmons, Pascal Siakam and Jamal Murray as the fourth player from the 2016 draft to sign an extension off his four-year rookie deal.

Will Brown become the fifth? The 22-year-old reportedly balked at the Celtics' four-year, $80 million offer and is seeking more money.

To estimate what Brown is actually worth, we decided to re-do the top 10 picks of the NBA Draft based solely on talent -- put another way: Who are the 10 best players from the 2016 NBA Draft? -- and make note of the paydays already earned by the top players.

Let's start at the top.

1. Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers' original pick: Ben Simmons)

New contract: Five years, $170 million ($34 million per year)

No surprise here. The Sixers' 6-foot-10 unicorn of a point guard was the crown jewel of this draft class even before he figured out how to shoot.

2. Pascal Siakam (Los Angeles Lakers' original pick: Brandon Ingram)

New contract: Four years, $130 million ($32.5 million per year)

Siakam slipped to 27th in the 2016 draft -- and spent all of last season proving 25 teams wrong. The Cameroon native averaged 16.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game despite sharing touches with Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry and boasts the second-highest Win Share in the 2016 draft class despite barely making an impact in his first two seasons. He should be an All-Star for years to come.

3. Jamal Murray (Boston Celtics' original pick: Jaylen Brown)

New contract: Five years, $170 million ($34 million per year)

Murray averaged career highs in points (18.2), assists (4.8) and rebounds (4.2) in a breakout 2018-19 campaign for Denver. If he can improve his 3-point shot (36.7 percent last season), he's a legitimate franchise point guard for an NBA title contender.

4. Buddy Hield (Phoenix Suns' original pick: Dragan Bender)

New contract: Four years, $94 million ($23.5 million per year)

Hield's advanced age (26) is a strike against him, but he proved himself as a bona fide scorer last season, averaging 20.7 points per game while shooting 42.7 percent from 3-point range. Brown may have a slightly higher ceiling, but Hield has a higher floor.

5. Jaylen Brown (Minnesota Timberwolves' original pick: Kris Dunn)

New contract: TBD

Brown has more playoff experience than any player ahead of him on this last and at best could be a two-way star in the mold of Kawhi Leonard. But the 22-year-old has some work to do after a disappointing 2018-19 campaign that saw a regression in nearly every statisical category. That regression may have cost Brown a Hield-like extension, although he can get back into that range with a strong 2019-20 campaign.

6. Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans' original pick: Buddy Hield)

New contract: TBD

Ingram is very similar to Brown: A tantalizing talent with a few red flags. If his scare with blood clots doesn't affect him and he improves his outside shooting, Ingram could be a perennial All-Star in New Orleans. But he's yet to play more than 59 games in a season and needs to put up consistent numbers to be mentioned in the top five of this draft class.

7. Malcolm Brogdon (Denver Nuggets' original pick: Jamal Murray)

New contract: Four years, $85 million ($21.3 million per year)

The 2016 Rookie of the Year played a key role in the Milwaukee Bucks' resurgence as their rock solid point guard before being traded to the Indiana Pacers this offseason. He's missed 52 games due to injury over the past two seasons, though, and at 26 doesn't have much more room for improvement.

8. Domantas Sabonis (Phoenix Suns' original pick: Marquese Chriss)

New contract: Four years, $74.9 million ($18.7 million per year)

Sabonis has developed into a productive starter for the Pacers after a disappointing rookie campaign with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 6-foot-11 big man won't be a superstar, but his rebounding and ability to stretch the floor make him a key asset.

9. Dejounte Murray (Toronto Raptors' original pick: Jakob Poltl)

New contract: Four years, $64 million ($16 million per year)

Leave it to the San Antonio Spurs to steal Murray with the 29th overall pick. The promising point guard missed the entire 2018-19 season due to a torn ACL but earned second-team All-Defensive honors as a rookie and shows promise as a well-rounded starter in San Antonio.

10. Caris LeVert (Milwaukee Bucks original pick: Thon Maker)

New contract: Three years, $52.5 million ($167 million per year)

This was a close call between LeVert and Kris Dunn, but we're giving the edge to the Brooklyn Nets guard, who's a more well-rounded player and made an impressive return from a gruesome foot injury last season.

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Celtics' Kemba Walker on Jayson Tatum's bounce-back game: 'There'll be a lot more big games for that guy'

Celtics' Kemba Walker on Jayson Tatum's bounce-back game: 'There'll be a lot more big games for that guy'

BOSTON -- The final numbers for Jayson Tatum in Boston’s 140-133 win over Washington - 23 points on 9-for-19 shooting - are not going to inspire any “M-V-P” chants or anything like that. 

“Better than one-for-eighteen,” said a grinning Tatum, referring to the horrendous shooting performance he had in Boston’s win over Dallas on Monday. 

Tatum has had some off nights shooting this season, but the woeful performance against Dallas was historically bad. It was only the ninth time in NBA history that a player shot that poorly while taking 18 shots from the field. 

Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal, who knows Tatum better than anyone else in the NBA, said going into the game Wednesday night that the third-year forward was going to have a solid bounce-back performance. 

Beal said he anticipated Tatum would come out, “gunning. I know it.”

He added, “He forgot about that game and is looking forward to this one.”

He was right. 

Tatum didn’t take long to get it going offensively against the Wizards (2-7), scoring 11 points in the first quarter alone on 5-for-9 shooting from the field. 

Hitting up the practice facility within hours of the Mavericks game on Monday was part of Tatum’s put-that-one-behind-me program that as we saw against Washington on Wednesday, worked pretty well. 

When asked why he went to the practice facility right after the Dallas game, Tatum replied, “Just see some shots go in, really. Try to get my mind off the game and get back in a rhythm.”

Kemba Walker said he spoke with Tatum shortly before the game. 

“I told him, ‘You know, every night is not going to be the best night. It’s all about the bounce back,’” Walker recalled. “And he bounced back tonight. It was a huge game; a big game from him.”

It was important not only for the Celtics to continue on their winning ways, but also for Tatum’s growth into someone that many believe will eventually rank among the best in the NBA. 

“He’s a special talent,” Walker said. “I’m excited [about] the way he handled tonight’s game.”

Beal echoed similar sentiments about his fellow St. Louis native who also attended the same high school (Chaminade College Prep) as Beal years later.

“He’s a star, man; a star in the making,” Beal, who dropped 44 points on the Celtics, said of Tatum. “It’s amazing to be a part of his life, to see him grow every year to where he is now.”

The 26-year-old Beal has been an All-Star each of the last two seasons, so he knows all too well how challenging it can be to make that leap from being a good player, which is where Tatum is now, to being an All-Star, which Tatum has not been coy about as being one of his many goals. 

“He’s going to continue to get better. He’s going to hit bumps in the road,” Beal said. “He’s going to go through adversity. That’s just going to make him better and stronger.”

And seeing him up close now, Walker has gained a greater appreciation for not just Tatum’s talent but the amount of time he puts into his game to get better. 

“From his first season, watching from afar, and now being his teammate, I love the way he works on off days to improve his game,” Walker said. “We need that kid; we need him a lot. We need him to score big points for us and we need him to take on those challenges. There’ll be a lot more big games for that guy.”

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Warriors, which tips off Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Against Isaiah Thomas, it's Kemba Walker's time to be the Celtics' 4th-quarter hero

Against Isaiah Thomas, it's Kemba Walker's time to be the Celtics' 4th-quarter hero

BOSTON — Kemba Walker remembers watching the Isaiah Thomas-era Celtics from afar. He marveled at the way Thomas' big fourth quarters used to make the Garden roar. He watched Boston's playoff surge in the 2017 playoffs and wondered what it felt like to play on that sort of stage.

How crazy, then, was it to watch Walker tuck behind an Enes Kanter screen and splash a crunch-time 3-pointer over Thomas to seal Boston’s 140-133 triumph over the visiting Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

The Celtics have now won nine in a row. That’s two games longer than any win streak Walker ever experienced in Charlotte. Boston owns the NBA’s best record at 9-1 as it braces for a five-game trip that ought to tell us a lot more about where exactly this team sits in among the league’s elite.

The Celtics have had to patch together some ugly wins early this season and the only constant has been Walker figuring out a way to dump in a bunch of points, particularly in key spots.

Walker is 17th in the NBA in scoring while averaging 25 points per game but he’s fifth in second-half scoring, putting up 16.4 points per game, all while shooting 50 percent from the field and 55.9 percent beyond the 3-point arc after the intermission. He’s sixth in fourth-quarter scoring at 8.1 points per game but rises to No. 1 in the league when you judge based on per-100 possession production (57.9 points per 100 possessions).

No need to make comparisons here. Kardiac Kemba isn’t producing at King in the Fourth level production, but he’s damn good. The Celtics have had an embarrassment of riches in terms of fourth-quarter producers in recent seasons from Thomas to Kyrie Irving to Walker.

It’s why Marcus Smart laughs and declares himself spoiled when asked about all the clutch players he’s had alongside him in Boston’s backcourt.

"I’ve been lucky. I’ve been here for all three of them,” said Smart. "Those guys, it’s a different mindset when the fourth quarter hits.

"It’s kinda like when you know you’ve got to do something. Your mom’s coming home and you ain’t done the dishes so you had to run. That’s how it is in the fourth quarter. Something just clicks like, ‘Oh, we gotta go, it’s time to turn it on.’"

Walker scored 11 third-quarter points Wednesday then went cold for a stretch in the fourth. The late 3-pointer was his only make of the frame and yet the Celtics needed it to bury these pesky but defense-averse Wizards.

What is it about key moments that allows Walker to shine brightest?

“Just playing the game. Just the way the game is going sometimes, Brad is just calling my number,” said Walker. "Whenever he’s calling the plays for me, whatever’s my play, I’m just looking to be aggressive, make the right play. But my teammates do such a great job kind of stretching, getting me open, holding the screens. They know I like to pull up off the screens so they do a great job of just getting me open.”

Walker finished with a team-high 25 points on 8-of-17 shooting but was just one of seven players in double figures for scoring. He spent much of his postgame press conference gushing about the way others stepped up, including Boston’s injury-thinned bench.

A west coast trip awaits. There’s going to be bumps in the road, at least more than Boston has encountered thus far. But Walker is ready for it.

"We’re going to learn a lot, man,” said Walker. "When you go on road trips is when adversity starts to hit, fatigue starts to set in, guys want to get back home. Those trips are long. But we’re going to learn a lot about each other.

“Hopefully when adversity does hit, we’re going to see how we handle it. That’s what’s the most important thing. For me, I just want to keep this team together as much as possible. This is a huge stretch for us, really important, and it’s gonna show what we’re made of.”

Walker knows there’s going to be games where, like Thomas, he’s going to have to step up and lead this team. He’s going to have to shoulder the load.

He’s been watching from afar and he’s ready for those moments, and so much more.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Warriors, which tips off Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.