Celtics star Jaylen Brown’s subtle improvements

Celtics star Jaylen Brown’s subtle improvements

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Jaylen Brown keeps getting better every year. “But wait,” you might say. “He’s down in stats pretty much across the board (points, rebounds, assists, FG%). How can you say he’s getting better?”

I say this because his mentality is hyper-focused on doing whatever it takes to win and in particular being ready to win in the playoffs.

Take a moment and read Jay King’s excellent feature on Brown in The Athletic and you’ll see what I mean.

Here’s just one excerpt:

Brown believes his progress has shown up in subtler parts of the game. His turnover rate is the lowest of his career. He has been less likely to dribble too far into traffic. He has been more likely to draw a help defender, spin around and find an open teammate. At the other end of the court, he believes his “defensive playmaking is at an all-time high.” He is on pace to set a career high in block rate and is close to his career high in steal rate.

“Most people, how they watch the game, they don’t really watch, so it’s like they evaluate it by statistics,” Brown said. “And that’s one thing. And I feel like as the course of the season goes on, you’ll start to see (my statistics) kind of measure back out, but for the most part, how you play good basketball is most important. Making the right pass. Taking the right shots. Making the right plays. Being in position on both sides of the ball.”

It is so easy to use the reductive analysis of “he can’t go left.” But when you step back and consider all the myriad of things that a driving wing has to navigate, you gain a better appreciation for how the Heat defended him last year and what he’s learned from that process. There are sets (don’t call them plays, that’s too simple) the Celtics run and countless ways to execute those sets based on the personnel, defensive positioning, time left on the clock, who’s running hot and cold, and plenty of other factors — all of which needs to be processed and executed in split seconds.

Brown is focused on developing those split second decisions in his game and the hope is that he’ll be ready to meet those challenges when the playoffs ramp up in the spring. If that means sacrificing some stats along the way, then so be it. He already got paid. Now, he just needs to focus on that ring.

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