Jaylen Brown is having a better rookie season then you might think.
The reining third overall pick is 19th among all NBA rookies in scoring, but a lot of it has to do with how he’s used. All 18 rookies currently posting a better scoring average are also averaging more minutes per game.
This isn’t so much a reflection on Brown and just points to the fact that the Celtics are a good basketball team. A quick glance at common statistics would make it easy to assume 2016 second overall pick Brandon Ingram is having a better year than Brown, but a lot of it is due to the circumstances each player was drafted into. Ingram is currently averaging more then twice the minutes Brown is – 28.0 MPG compared to just 13.2 – and it’s all because the Los Angeles Lakers don’t really have better options.
Brown has clearly been the better player when you even everything out. The former Cal Golden Bear is posting better averages per possession in points, rebounds, steals and blocks and his shooting numbers show that he’s a much more efficient scorer on top of all that.
Brown is shooting 43.6% from the field this year, which actually makes him the only player taken in the top seven currently shooting above 40% with Ingram, Dragan Bender, Kris Dunn, Buddy Hield and Jamal Murray all posting lower marks. This is a really positive sign because shooting was arguably the biggest concern scouts had when Brown entered the NBA. While his numbers still aren’t that great from the field, his shooting percentage, three point percentage and free throw percentage are all above what they were last year in college.
Now is the time for Boston to unleash Brown and ramp up his minutes a bit. The guy is already having one of the better rookie seasons among his class when everything is balanced out and it’s time to see what the swingman can do with a bigger role. Brad Stevens doesn’t even have to do anything big to make this happen, all he needs to do is stop playing Terry Rozier once Avery Bradley comes back – cutting down on the amount of three guard lineups the Celtics use – and also quit playing Gerald Green completely, who only seems to play during the second half of games when Brown struggled early on.
A number of well performing rookies under Stevens have almost lucked into playing time. Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk both took home Second Team All-Rookie honors during their debut seasons while getting minutes on bad teams that had no other options, but Brown is different because he’s now shown he flat out deserves more minutes. This pick was heavily questioned by fans, but Brown has played really well in limited minutes so far and eventually you have to find out if this carries over when given a bigger role.