2021 Awards Series Most Improved Player: Jaylen Brown

Earning our Most Improved Player award in back-to-back seasons is a remarkable feat.

Winning it three times in a span of four years is just straight-up absurd.

But for a man who lives by the motto of “Faith Consistency Hard Work Pays Off,” such an accomplishment is almost to be expected, as the act of improving is what Jaylen Brown is all about.

Brown won his first Celtics MIP after his sophomore season in 2017-18, during which he saw his scoring average more than double from 6.6 points per game as a role-player rookie to 14.5 PPG as a full-time starter.

He then won it again last season after taking on a more significant offensive role, which allowed him to post career-highs of 20.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game.

But Brown wasn’t done leaping yet.

This past season, he transitioned into stardom, logging 24.7 PPG, 3.4 APG, 6.0 RPG, and 1.2 steals per game, while shooting 48.4 percent from the field, 39.7 percent from 3-point range, and 76.4 percent from the free-throw line. Every one of those numbers, except for the one in the rebounding department, represented a new career-high for Brown, who earned his first All-Star appearance alongside Jayson Tatum.

Unfortunately, Brown’s season was cut short just ahead of the playoffs after tearing a ligament in his left wrist which required surgery. But up to that point, he had been consistently rising in just about every aspect of his game.

First, let’s take a dive into Brown’s scoring spike. Prior to this season, he had never scored more than 34 points in a game. He reached or surpassed that total six times during the 2020-21 campaign, including three efforts of 40 or more points.

Brown became a far more aggressive and confident offensive player this season, as he saw jumps in his drives per game (from 8.5 to 10.5), catch-and-shoot attempts per game (from 4.3 to a team-high 4.9), and pull-up attempts per game (from 4.1 to 6.4).

Yet, the most interesting part about Brown’s increased scoring was that his total number of field-goal attempts actually decreased. He was simply far more efficient in his shot-making across the board.

Aside from his scoring, Brown’s most impressive improvement came on the playmaking front. He logged seven of his top nine career assisting efforts throughout the season, including a career-high 10-assist performance on Feb. 11 against Toronto. The points he created off assists jumped from 5.2 to 8.7 per game, and that was largely due to his enhanced court vision, a more controlled handle, and the improved ability to make the right pass at the right time.

Veteran floor general Marcus Smart lauded Brown’s decision-making a month into the season after noticing significant improvement in that area.

“His rookie year and Year 2, that Jaylen Brown would just put his head down and go and not understand where he was going,” Smart said on Jan. 23. “But he worked hard, you’ve gotta give him credit. And it shows. That’s why he’s one of the best young players in this game and doing what he’s doing, and doing what he’s doing for this team. So I’m just very, very proud of the way that he approaches every game, and you can see it’s working out for him.”

It's working out for Brown because he approaches every game with an “FCHWPO” mentality. His consistent work ethic and determination to get better every day led him to place sixth on this year’s NBA Most Improved Player ballot, and it led him to earn our team MIP for the third time in four seasons.

addByline("Taylor Snow", "Celtics.com", "taylorcsnow");