Jaylen Brown's New Free-Throw Approach Paying Off
CHICAGO - Earlier this season, Jaylen Brown often found his mind racing whenever he would earn a trip to the free-throw line. Being so caught up in the fast-paced nature of the game at hand, the sophomore Celtics wing frequently struggled to slow down his thought process at the charity stripe, which caused rushed attempts. As a result, he shot just 56.4 percent from the line during his first 41 games.
As someone who can slash his way to the basket and draw contact at will, Brown knew it would be beneficial for him to fix the issue. So, he began altering his approach at the line.
"I've been concentrating, just working on my focus and my breathing a lot more, and I've been able to slow my heart rate down," Brown said Monday morning ahead of his team's shootaround at United Center in Chicago. "I'm thinking a lot less about it and I'm just shooting it."
As simple as it sounds, that technique has been doing wonders for Brown. His free-throw clip has climbed up to 77.1 percent over the last 18 games, including a superb 18-of-20 (90.0 percent) mark from the stripe during the last six contests.
There was never an issue with Brown's free-throw shooting stroke, according his position coach Micah Shrewsberry. The main concern was being able to block out everything else going on in the game so that he could fixate his mind on the moment.
"He has a lot more going on within games now," said Shrewsberry. "He's a primary defender, he's scoring a little bit more, and you've just gotta kind of decompress from all of that for a second and really just focus on the task at hand for those two free throws."
Making a free throw may seem like the simplest task in basketball, there are many players around the NBA who struggle to convert from the line, whether it be caused by situational pressure or by a lack of focus.
"It's the easiest shot in the world, and I think that's why a lot of people miss it," said Brown. "It's kind of ironic."
Fortunately, Brown appears to have found a way to make the "easiest shot in the world" easier for himself.
"He's just really trying to relax a little bit more before he shoots it," observed Shrewsberry. "He's taking a small pause there. Before, there were times where he's been a little bit rushed early when he's shooting it. I think it's more of a mental thing, so he takes a slight pause to get his mind off of whatever else was going on before he gets back to the shot."
The adjustment hasn't been easy, but it's something that Brown has worked hard on this season to improve.
"He just loves being in the gym, which is a trait that you see in real good players," said Shrewsberry, who works closely with Brown on a daily basis. "He wants to get better, he wants to continue to work, and if you introduce him to something new, he really attacks it and goes after it and tries to add that to his game."
Brown's hard work has enabled him to enhance virtually every area of his game this season. Now, he can happily add free-throw shooting to his growing list of improvements.