Brown’s Growth as Playmaker Evident in Triple-Double Effort vs. NY
Jaylen Brown’s first NBA triple-double against the New York Knicks Saturday night was rewarding, not just because it was a career milestone, but also because it provided proof that the work he’s putting in to become a better playmaker is starting to come to fruition.
The star wing facilitated Boston to a 99-75 win at TD Garden, dishing out a career-high 11 assists to go along with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds. Ten of his helpers were handed out in the first three quarters, by the end of which the Celtics had already built a 16-point lead.
Brown said after the game that over the last few weeks, “I've pulled a lot of the coaches into the film room; an extra 30 minutes, extra hour every single day just to watch, see, learn, and get better. This was the game where some of that hard work paid off.”
Throughout those film sessions, Brown has focused on how he can become a better playmaker. Teams are putting more pressure on him than ever before – especially when he's on the floor without fellow All-Star Jayson Tatum – so he's needing to find ways to get his other teammates involved by feeding them in their sweet spots.
“I've been spending a lot of time watching the game, watching our team play in different ways I can be better and make my teammates better,” Brown elaborated. “The coaching staff has been in the film room with me, watching things, talking, debating, et cetera. So to see some of that hard work come to fruition is fantastic. Still got a lot of basketball ahead, so just want to keep looking forward to the challenge and keep making plays."
Brown has seen his assist numbers jump quite a bit over the course of the season. In his first 13 games, he averaged 2.2 assists per contest. In his last 13 games since returning from a strained hamstring, he’s seen that number jump to 3.5.
Though, the numbers don’t always tell the whole story. For example, he failed to record a single assist during Boston’s Dec. 29 matchup against the Clippers, yet it was still one of his best passing games of the season.
As Udoka noted, however, sometimes you may be making the right decisions, but the guys around you might just not be hitting their shots.
“He had eight potential assists, which was a season-high for the league for wide-open shots guys missed,” Udoka recalled of Brown’s effort against the Clippers. “I don't fault him for that. He was getting off the ball and making the right plays.”
There have been other matchups in which Brown has made mistakes. His turnovers have been on the rise of late, but that’s all part of figuring out his new role and added responsibilities as a playmaker.
“Some of the games you could see him overthinking it at times, when to pass and when to shoot, and he’s starting to figure out that rhythm of simplicity and making the easy pass and trusting your teammates and not playing to the crowd - all of the things we preached all year,” Udoka said. “But it’s a balance when you’re a natural scorer and you’re trying to shift your focus to how teams are defending you.”
On Saturday night, there were very few errors on Brown's end, as he made one right decision after another while turning the ball over only three times during 35 minutes of action.
Being new to the facilitator role, Brown knows that he’s not going to be mistake-free. And he’s OK with that. The important thing is that he’s gaining experience and growing through it.
"At times, playing in a new position or being more of a playmaker, you want to do everything right,” Brown said. “You want to be exactly what people want you to be when they live up to expectations. But there's some growth that goes into it. Just being able to have that experience in a couple of games where I got to really play with the ball in my hands, be forced to make reads and decisions – it's been great. So, it's all a growth process. Experience has been a great teacher. As I continue to move forward in my career, I'm always looking for ways to get better and simplify the game.”