Jaylen Brown: The next chapter

Zainab Ali/File

Though Jaylen Brown’s freshman season ended in disappointment, most assumed that he would take his talents to the NBA.

In his lone season at Cal, he averaged 14.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and shot 43.1 percent from the field. Additionally, Brown and fellow freshman phenom Ivan Rabb catalyzed the Bears to a 23-11 record, highlighted by an NCAA tournament berth, 12-6 record in Pac-12 play and an undefeated home record.

Cal faced off against the University of Hawaii in its tournament opener but lost in upset fashion, 77-66. Brown struggled in this game, scoring just four points on one of six from the field and also had seven turnovers. This left many fans and critics alike wondering what would be Brown’s next move.

On April 21, 2016, he officially announced his decision to forgo his sophomore season and enter the 2016 NBA Draft.  Brown was projected as a top-10 pick because of his physicality, NBA-ready physique and massive upside.

He still faced doubters, who pointed to his meager three-point shooting at 29.4 percent and free-throw percentage at 65.4 percent. Most draft experts knew Brown would go early, but to whom and with what pick seemed hazy.

On June 24, 2016, this question was answered. The Boston Celtics selected Jaylen Brown with the third overall pick in the NBA Draft, adding yet another young and talented piece to a franchise on the rise.

Boston is an atmosphere and city with a great deal of basketball history and the ideal landing spot for Brown’s next chapter as a basketball player. The Celtics have been steadily improving ever since they turned the page on their big-three era that featured all-time greats Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

After these franchise-altering power moves, Boston began its youth movement with the hope of returning the Celtics to their basketball glory. Fans knew times were changing and assumed the team was now most likely in rebuild mode, moving on from so many faces synonymous with the team over the past several seasons.

Brown will acclimate to a team that is far from rebuilding, coming off playoff appearances in back-to-back seasons and primed to contend this season.

A few short years ago, the Celtics closed the 2013-14 season with a record of 25-57. Fast-forward a few years and Boston is now among the NBA’s Eastern Conference elite, featuring all-stars Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford.

Boston has one of the NBA’s most intriguing rosters, including a strong blend of savvy veterans and emerging young talents. This will work to the benefit of Brown, enabling him to ease into his NBA transition.

Brown has no pressure to start. He can act like a sponge, absorbing all the knowledge he can from the Celtics’ veterans and applying their tutelage and ever-valuable insights to his game.

The Celtics starters are set for this NBA season. The lineup features point guard Thomas, shooting guard Avery Bradley, small forward Jae Crowder, power forward Amir Johnson and center Horford. A lineup with great talent and versatility that should be a force this NBA season.

In addition, the bench includes many strong role players. The bench features guards Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and James Young, forwards Brown, Gerald Green and Jonas Jerebko and big men Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Zeller.

Brown is surrounded by a great deal of talent, which allows him to learn while coming off the bench. This has worked quite well for Brown so far, providing a spark for the Celtics’ bench unit. The team is now three games into the NBA season as he begins to showcase his upside.

In Boston’s season-opening win versus the Brooklyn Nets, he played about 19 minutes, scoring nine points with one assist, two rebounds and two blocks — a solid stat line for a player easing his way into the team’s rotation.

He then scored eight points to go along with one assist and one rebound in a loss to the Chicago Bulls in Dwyane Wade’s homecoming game. Once again, he took advantage of his fixed amount of playing time — roughly 20 minutes — for this Celtics team.

In game three, Brown scored seven points and hauled in one rebound in about 15 minutes of game action. He continued to take full advantage of his limited playing time in this win versus the Charlotte Hornets.

Head coach Brad Stevens is already implementing Brown into Boston’s rotation, which is a good sign for both Celtics fans and Brown himself. He can learn on the fly as Stevens continues to grant him playing time.

This offers him the foundation to keep steadily improving, as he continues not only to adjust to his new team but also the NBA game itself. Brown should be a key piece for the Celtics roster this season, who has high hopes in the NBA’s title contention.

Contact Ryan Groves at [email protected].