Honing His Craft: Brown Becoming Strong Finisher

WALTHAM, Mass. – Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown has developed a high level of craftiness around the basket that is beginning to earn him a reputation around the NBA.

The Chicago Bulls got a taste of Brown’s strong rim-running ability during the second quarter of Sunday’s matchup when he Euro-stepped through two defenders and went behind his back from left-to-right, all before finishing with a scooping, left-handed layup.

Only recently has Brown begun to convert these crafty, split-decision buckets in traffic. He was able to pull off such plays at the college level with relative ease, but he struggled to do so during the early part of his rookie season as he adjusted to the NBA's high level of defensive talent.

“I’ve never played against guys that are this athletic or this good,” Brown said Monday afternoon at the Celtics’ training facility in Waltham. “It’s just been a transition and I’ve gotten a little more comfortable with it.”

Brown’s teammates have noticed a major shift in his efficiency around the rim. Isaiah Thomas believes the rookie forward has become more successful on his drives because he’s taking a more patient approach to the game.

“Earlier in the season when he got his opportunities he was going so fast and kind of out of control, but now he’s slowing down,” said Thomas, who leads the league with 13.0 drives per game. “He’s very strong and athletic, so once he gets a step on somebody, more than likely he’s going to score. He’s just letting the game come to him.”

It’s unusual for the fast-paced NBA game to slow down so quickly for a 20-year-old rookie. For most young players in the league, it takes a few years to completely adjust from the college level. Brown, however, has found himself in a unique situation, according to Thomas.

“A lot of those guys whose game hasn’t slowed down for years is because they don’t get the chance, or when they do it’s two or three minutes here and there, and that’s tough for a young guy,” said Thomas. “But he’s getting minutes on a playoff team and he’s taking advantage of it each and every game.”

Brown is also taking great advantage of his resources. Not only does he capitalize on every opportunity to go to the gym to work on his game; he also spends hours studying how others have perfected their craft.

“I’ve studied our guys, like IT, how they turn corners and how they use their body to shield off and things like that,” said Brown. “I’ve definitely learned a lot from our veteran guys, and some of our young guys too, just how to get to the basket and how to create space and finish.”

Brown’s rapid growth has allowed him to exceed others’ expectations, and he’s only getting better.

During 10 games since the All-Star break, Brown has averaged 11.5 points per game on 54.4 percent shooting from the field and 46.7 percent shooting from 3-point range.

Now, the question is, can he continue to positively impact the team on a consistent basis?

“I think that he’s had some great spurts, there’s no question,” said C’s coach Brad Stevens. “He’s played really well. He’s probably ahead of where I thought he’d be, but he’s going to have to keep doing it.”

Considering Brown’s stable work ethic in the gym and his admirable studying habits, there’s no reason to believe that he won’t be able to maintain his recent level of success; there’s no reason to believe that he won’t continue to grow at a rapid rate and develop into a star.

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