Season Refresh Chapter: Jaylen Brown
BOSTON – Jaylen Brown should be in the conversation for the Most Improved Player award for the 2019-20 season. That’s how great of a campaign he’s having.
Brown, who signed a contract extension with the team just ahead of the season, has proven to the world that he’s worth every penny of it and then some. He has taken his game to borderline All-Star level while averaging a career-best 20.4 points per game.
That scoring average is a significant leap from last season, when he averaged 13.0 PPG. Brown has been a steady and well-rounded offensive force for Boston, all while improving nearly every other facet of his game as well.
The list of improvements is nearly endless. Brown is shooting a career-best 49.0 percent from the field, up from 46.5 percent last season. He’s shooting a career-best 73.6 percent from the free-throw line, up from 65.8 percent last season. He’s shooting 38.1 percent from long distance, up from 34.4 percent last season.
Brown is also averaging career bests of 6.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game, which are all healthy improvements from last season’s numbers. That rebounding average trails only Luka Doncic’s average of 9.3 per game among players who are officially listed as shooting guards.
So how has the 23-year-old wing made such drastic improvements to his averages? First and foremost, he’s gotten more of an opportunity.
Head coach Brad Stevens has viewed Brown as one of the team’s top rotational players since the season began. Brown ranks second on the team in minutes played per game with an average of 34 per contest. Last season, he averaged just 25.9 minutes per game, which ranked seventh on the C’s.
In addition to his increased playing time, there’s no doubt that Brown has also sharpened his skills on the court. His shooting percentages speak for themselves, but he has also improved his ball handling, which has led to far more efficient scoring opportunities near the basket.
The trend of Brown showcasing these skills and playing at an All-Star level began early on in the season. He scored 20 or more points during eight of his first 14 games and has logged 30 such performances through his first 50 appearances of the season. He’s also eclipsed 30 points five times this season – three more occasions than during his first three seasons combined.
To add some perspective to the importance of Brown’s scoring punch, Boston is 23-7 when he scores at least 20 points, and 5-0 when he eclipses 30 points.
Brown has led the Celtics in minutes played 15 times this season, in points 13 times, in rebounds 12 times, and in steals 11 times.
When it comes to his top performances of the season, Brown logged the best game of his career Dec. 27 against Cleveland – just two days after erupting for 30 points against the defending-champion Toronto Raptors on Christmas Day. Brown’s Dec. 27 performance consisted of a career-best 34 points to go along with a season-best nine rebounds. He also shot a stellar 13-for-20 from the field and 5-for-10 from long distance during that contest.
Let’s also not forget the countless highlight-reel slams he’s thrown down this season, one of which was his emphatic posterization of LeBron James on Jan. 20 at TD Garden.
From the first game of the season all the way to the start of the hiatus, Brown has proven to be a far more dangerous player this season than he ever has been before. It’s no coincidence that the Celtics are also in a far better place this season than they were last season.
There is a short list of players who should be in serious consideration for the Most Improved Player award. Brown is unquestionably one of them.