BOSTON – From their offseason homes in Atlanta, Jaylen Brown and Al Horford watched as the contents of the 2016-17 Celtics roster separated piece by piece. Eleven of their teammates from the previous season parted ways with the organization in one way or another. By the end of the chaotic summer, the two of them made up half of Boston’s returnees for the upcoming 2017-18 season.
It’s a lot of change for a second-year player like Brown to endure, but fortunately he had his veteran teammate to consult with throughout the process.
“Me and Al were having numerous conversations about how crazy everything has been, about the changes,” Brown said Tuesday evening at the Boston Public Schools headquarters in Roxbury, where he was a guest speaker for a “Stay In School” event presented by Arbella Insurance. “He’s been in the league 10-plus years and he said he’s never seen anything like this before, so it was interesting hearing his perspective.”
The level-headed 20-year-old did his best to stay away from the outside noise this summer. He tried not to think of the commotion and the constant trade rumors. Instead, he focused on how he can adapt to all of the changes. He focused on how he can make things easier on his new teammates as they learn to play in a new system. And he focused on how he can be a better leader, just like Horford has proven to be.
Brown understands that Boston is bound to experience some growing pains this season considering all of the new pieces that have been added. But through the pain, he believes there will be great gain.
“It’s going to take some time to jell, to get the offense flowing right, to get the kinks out, and that’s OK,” said Brown, whose only returning teammates aside from Horford are 23-year-old guards Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart. “We were talking about it with the kids today here from the Boston Public Schools; one of the words [we discussed] was perseverance. And that’s something that we’re going to have to show this year, because we’re going to need it.”
Despite being the second-youngest player on the team, Brown hopes to be someone that his teammates can look to for help as the Celtics develop this season. In truth, he should be somebody they look to since he knows Boston’s system better than most of the other players on the team.
“I think that’s kind of who I am,” Brown said of his expected role as a leader. “I just try to be vocal and try to lead by example.”
“There’s challenges and there’s ups and downs to being a young guy trying to do things that a lot of people don’t expect you to do, with trying to lead a group that doesn’t have (many) established vets,” Brown added. “So for me, I’m trying to be the best version of myself every day by first being a leader of myself. Before you can lead anybody else, you gotta put yourself in the right position to be successful. So (that means) just coming out, playing hard, talking, competing, being a good guy off the floor, bringing us together, and things like that. It’s not only essential to me; it’s essential to Marcus, Al, Kyrie (Irving), Gordon (Hayward) – all those guys.”
Now that the chaotic summer is over, Brown has a chance to put this mindset to the test.
“It’s going to be a great, great year and I can’t wait,” said Brown. “There’s going to be ups and downs, but I think it’s going to be a true testament to Boston Celtic pride when we persevere and get things done.”
As a young leader in the making, Brown has the opportunity to play a major role in the process of bringing this new Celtics team together, piece by piece. He can start making his mark on the new-look C’s just one week from now when they begin training camp in Newport, R.I.