SALT LAKE CITY – Jaylen Brown walked into Danny Ainge’s office right after Boston’s postseason came to an end and made a statement: I’m playing in the Summer League.
He took the court Monday night in Salt Lake City to begin the exhibition season and made another statement to everyone who watched him play: I’m dominating Summer League play.
Brown was unquestionably the top player on the floor as he dominated the Philadelphia 76ers en route to game highs of 29 points and 13 rebounds. The game’s next-highest point total was 21 by teammate Jayson Tatum, and no member of the 76ers scored more than 17 points during Boston’s 89-88 win.
“I’ve been putting in a lot – a lot – of work, that nobody is seeing,” Brown told Celtics.com after the win. “I just wanted to come out and make sure that people are seeing it.”
They did, so long as they had their eyes open.
Brown did it all. He attacked the basket over and over, leading to 10 free throw attempts and one REALLY loud dunk. He attacked the glass in a way he never had before in a Celtics uniform; his 13 rebounds were four more than he grabbed in any game of his rookie campaign. And he also showed off a sweetly soft touch from long distance, as he canned three of his four 3-pointers that included a swish on a transition pull-up 3 that raised some eyebrows.a
Overall, he shot 10-for-16 from the field goals (10), 3-pointers (three) and free throws (six) than any other player in the game.
This is not the same guy who took the court for the Celtics a year ago as a rookie. This guy is looking to lead his team while crushing the opponent.
“Last year when I was in this spot, I was so nervous,” he recalled Monday night of his first Summer League game. “I think I shot 17 free throws and only had like 15 points, so I guess I got to the free-throw line a lot, but I was so nervous.”
There were no nerves Monday night. Instead, Brown said, he felt ancious – anxious to show off what he’s added to his tool belt this summer, and to showcase what it looks like when he’s seeing red.
“On this team, the Summer League team, my job is to be a playmaker, to score the ball, to make plays for others, score in transition,” he stated confidently. “So I’m going to do that.”
This is a more diverse version of Brown; one that doesn’t need to fall in line behind the likes of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Al Horford, Jae Crowder and Co. He’s the go-to guy for the Summer C’s.
It’s difficult for a go-to guy to impress a coach, if only because great things are expected from him, but that’s exactly what Brown is doing this summer.
“It’s just his strength, his athleticism, him hitting the deep ball, him posting up, we felt he could be making pull-ups in the paint,” said Jerome Allen, who is the acting head coach of the Summer Celtics. “He made a number of different plays that one year ago at this point, he wasn’t making.”
Add it all together and Brown made the exact impression the Celtics and their fans base sought of him as Summer Play began: they wanted him to look like he didn’t belong in these games because he was too advanced.
Brown certainly looked that part Monday night. He criticized himself for committing seven turnovers, but outside of that, he was outstanding.
He said he still has “a lot to work on for next game,” which will arrive at 7 p.m. Wednesday night when Boston takes on San Antonio.
For the sake of the Spurs, they’d better hope that this new and dominant version of Brown doesn’t up his game to yet another level before tip-off arrives.