If you have not been paying attention, Jaylen Brown is quietly having himself an MVP caliber season to start the 2020-21 season. The 24-year old has taken his game to the next level for the Celtics, especially on the offensive end. Brown has always been a terrific defensive player. But he is showing us why he is also one of the best two-way players in the league.
Through 16 games, Jaylen Brown is averaging a career-high in points at 27.3 per game, which currently sits at sixth-best in the entire league. He is also scoring at an incredibly efficient rate. Shooting career bests from the field and beyond the arc at 53% and 44%, respectively.
Brown has already broken the 40-point barrier twice this year. One of which came last Friday when Brown put up 42 points in a 122-110 loss to Philadelphia. He followed up that game with another incredible performance, posting 33 points in just 19 minutes during Boston’s 141-103 victory against the Cavs. Jaylen hit 13 of his 21 shot attempts, including 3 of 4 from the 3-point line. That was along his way to setting a single-game NBA record for the most points ever scored in less than 20 minutes of action. Brown also had a solid outing against the Bulls the other night with 26 points.
Every aspect of Brown’s offense game has improved this season. His shooting has gotten better every year he’s been in the league. He can finish at the rim through contact, and he can play off-ball. His ball-handling is miles ahead of where it used to be as well. His passing and decision-making could be better, but he is still good in that department. Brown’s offensive progression is the main reason for his hot start. But the Celtics injuries and COVID issues are also playing a somewhat large role in that as well.
After the 2018-19 season, Jaylen Brown signed a contract extension with the Celtics paying him $115 million over the next four years. At the time, many Celtics fans were upset with the extension because they were disappointed with how Brown performed the previous year. Brown averaged 13.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists over 74 games with Boston during the 2018-19 season. Those are respectable numbers for any normal player. Celtic fans expected more though, considering Brown averaged 14.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.6 assists over 70 games the previous year. People used his declining numbers as “evidence” that the young player was regressing and not worth the contract extension.
It’s important to point out that Brown started every game he played in during the 2017-18 season, while he only started 25 out of the 74 games during the 2018-19 season. Brown’s numbers declined from the 2017-18 season to the 2018-19 season, because he had to deal with a lot of competition within the team. Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward were both returning from injuries. It should have been obvious they were going to take some of Brown’s shot attempts away.
Beyond that, you also had players like Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris entering contract years and looking to prove themselves to other NBA teams. I haven’t even mentioned Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Marcus Smart, who all need the ball in their hands as well. The team needed more than one basketball to share, and Brown’s numbers took a hit as a result.
Fast-forward to this year, and you will see that Irving, Horford, Morris, Hayward, and Rozier are all gone. That has opened up a lot of opportunities for both Brown and Tatum to progress their games. Brown’s field goal attempts have increased steadily every year since the 2018-19 season. He is exhibiting the ability to be an efficient high-volume scorer. To take it a step further, Kemba Walker has missed time this year recovering from a knee injury. While Tatum has also missed action due to contracting COVID-19.
Brown has had to put the team on his back offensively at certain points this year. He is showing that, given the opportunities, he can be one of the most prolific scorers in the entire league. While Celtic fans may have been upset with his contract extension initially, they shouldn’t be upset anymore.
Brown should be a lock to make the All-Star team this year. Many will make the case he should win the Most Improved Player award. He was in the conversation for the award last year. Based on how he has started this season, perhaps he should be getting some MVP considerations as well. He’ll have to continue his strong play though to be in the race for MVP.