In my opinion, Jaylen Brown is one of the most polarizing players on this entire Celtics roster. Everything he does seems to get a rise out of people, whether it’s him showing confidence about himself and this team
or his play on the floor, I feel like there are Celtics fans that either love or hate Jaylen with no in between. Maybe it all comes back to how he was booed on Draft night I’m not sure, but one constant theme I’ve seen from interacting with stoolies and Celtics fans over the first 10 games of this season in which the Celts have struggled, is so many people are making Jaylen out to be the scapegoat for their issues. That he has to be the one to be moved to the bench and have his minutes cut for someone like Rozier. Now knowing that people can get emotional on Twitter and not really think things through, I wanted to look into this and see if this line of thinking even made sense. Is Jaylen really hurting this team the most? Is he the source of their slow start? That seemed a little dramatic, so here’s what I learned.
It’s 100% fair to say Jaylen started the season off poorly (just like everyone did). He had a decent first two games but definitely went into a funk for a three game stretch of NY/ORL/OKC. His shot was busted, defensively he had issues as he couldn’t really defend without fouling, and absolutely there were times where he looked lost. If you wanted to get on him back in late November you had every right. But here’s the thing, I don’t get why it’s still happening. Since the first DET game on 10/27, Jaylen Brown has the 3rd best overall Net Rating on this team at +8.8. You look at his advanced splits of 106/97 and those are the best of his entire career, including last year which was a breakout year and everybody loved Jaylen.
If you remove Theis since he played just 1 game over that stretch, Jaylen has been this teams 3rd best scorer at 15 points per game on 44/30% splits. That’s better shooting than Tatum, Hayward, Terry, Smart etc.
So once again after their loss in DEN, why are people STILL talking about how Jaylen needs to be removed from the starting lineup? Did you watch that Nuggets game? If anything he’s coming off his best game of the season, where he was much more aggressive, did a great job driving and kicking the ball out, and seems to be working his way out of that little three game skid to start the year.
The thing that makes me most confused is when I hear that he needs to concede minutes to someone like Terry. Look, I love Terry and think he’s going to have an awesome season, but how can you watch him play so far and think giving him more minutes makes this team better? Shouldn’t you reward whoever the player is that is playing best by having them on the floor more? It’s not like Rozier is playing 15 minutes a game, he’s playing a legit 22 minutes a night and hasn’t looked like himself really at any point this season on either end. If you look at where this team has struggled in terms of defense and shooting, how can you justify a Rozier over Brown switch helps?
I then wanted to look at all the lineups the Celtics have used to see if maybe there was a certain combination that worked better with Jaylen out. Right now with the starting 5 how it is, the Celtics are outscoring opponents by +4.1 points per 100 possessions. The Kyrie/Rozier/Hayward/Tatum/Horford lineup has played just 9 minutes together but gets outscored by 41.6 points per 100 possessions, so why would Brad make that switch? What has that lineup showed that would warrant it? I also hear people talk about how Mook should take his spot, and while we haven’t seen Mook play with the starters instead of Jaylen, we have seen him play with the starters instead of Hayward for the second highest minutes of any lineup and they get outscored by 23.9 points per 100 possessions. So that ain’t it either. So you can see when people tell me that Jaylen needs to go to the bench why I’m so confused. Him being a starter so far has been the best option, and since that DET game has been one of the better Celtics on the team, and yet people still get mad at him and blame him for their struggles, it makes little to no sense.
Here’s another reason why I disagree with this idea of taking minutes away from Jaylen. What is the one of the biggest problems this team has right now? They don’t attack. They feel allergic to the FT line or the paint/restricted area all together. Well guess what, when Jaylen is on the court their FGA in the restricted area and the paint are 15.8 and 5.9. The second he comes off, their restricted area FGA are cut in half to nearly 8.1 and in the paint FGA dip to 4.9. The answer to the Celtics offensive problems are not removing one of the few players on this roster willing to be aggressive and attack the rim. In fact it’s the exact opposite.
So please, if you are one of the people that think the move Brad has to make is move Jaylen to the second unit (something that I feel has become cliche to say and just something sports talk radio loves to say without a theory behind it) please give me your reasoning. That may have been true in the first week of the season, but since then he’s been one of the better all around players this team has. I don’t know what this fascination is that it’s always Jaylen’s fault and he has to be the first one to have his role changed, but I don’t think it’s all that fair.
He isn’t the problem.