Jaylen Brown’s continued improvement on full display in Celtics win, drops career-high 42 points vs. Grizzlies

Last season, the big story in Boston was Jayson Tatum making the leap to stardom. He emerged as a versatile scorer who can singlehandedly carry an offense, and made his first All-Star Game and first All-NBA appearance. The praise he received was well deserved, but it overshadowed the fact that his wing partner, Jaylen Brown, made steady improvements of his own. 

That trend has continued into the early part of this season, and after Brown’s stellar performance on Wednesday night, he can no longer be overlooked. Brown finished with a career-high 42 points, five rebounds and four assists in the Celtics’ dominant 126-107 win over the Grizzlies. 

It was a brilliant outing, and exactly what the Celtics and their fans would want to see from Brown. Not just because of the big numbers, but because it showcased his continued growth in a number of areas. 


3-point shooting was one of Brown’s biggest weaknesses coming into the league, but he’s quietly turned it into a strength. He’s now a reliable catch-and-shoot guy, knocking down 41.9 percent of those attempts last season. Against the Grizzlies he went 7 of 10 from downtown to match a career high, and while he did hit some spot-up looks, he also showed off his off-the-dribble game. After his big night he’s up to 44 percent from 3 on the season, and continues to prove that teams need to guard him beyond the arc.


Playmaking is another area where Brown’s game has advanced. He wasn’t required to do much of it when he first arrived in Boston, but that’s changed as he’s taken on a bigger role within the offense, especially this season with Gordon Hayward gone and Kemba Walker sidelined due to a knee injury.

Brown has risen to the challenge, and is averaging 3.4 assists per game, which would be a career-best. He’s making better reads when he gets into the lane, as you can see here. (Later on in the ball-handling section, there’s another example.)

And he also threw one of the best passes we’ve seen from anyone this season, threading the needle to Tatum on the fastbreak. 


It may sound simple, but one underlying reason for Brown’s success in the previous two areas is he’s a lot better at dribbling. His handle is tighter and quicker, and he can now confidently make moves in tight spaces, go past people and create opportunities for both himself and teammates. 

Just look how comfortable he is here putting a few moves together in combination before rising up for the jumper, which he drains over a tough defender in Dillon Brooks. 

Later in the game, he broke out all sorts of moves to shake the defense and create an open look for Aaron Nesmith. He just didn’t have these skills early in his career. 

Brown’s continued improvement throughout his career has been quite a joy to watch, and is a testament to his desire to be great. We hear a lot about players who make the leap, but not as much about the ones who gradually enhance their game year after year. Brown has taken that less glamorous route, but he’s arrived at the destination all the same. 

There were doubts about him when he was drafted as the No. 3 overall pick in 2016, and he’s been throw around in trade rumors for years, but he just keeps getting better and proving why Danny Ainge has had faith in him. 


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