Jaylen Brown’s sustained improvement in Celtics victory drops 42 points to Grizzlies

Last season was the big story in Boston that Jayson Tatum made the leap to stars. He emerged as a versatile goal scorer who could single-handedly carry a foul, making his first All-Star Game and first All-NBA appearance. The praise he received was well-deserved, but it did overshadow the fact that his wing partner, Jaylen Brown, overshadowed his own steady improvements.

This trend continued into the early part of this season, and after Brown’s excellent 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’ 126-107 victory over the Grizzlies.

It was a brilliant outing, and exactly what the Celtics and their fans of Brown would want to see. Not only because of the large numbers, but also because it has shown its continued growth in a number of areas.


3-point shooting was one of Brown’s biggest weaknesses coming into the league, but he quietly turned it into a strength. He is now a reliable catch-and-shoot man who knocked out 41.9 percent of the attempts last season. Against the Grizzlies, he went 7 of 10 from downtown to score a career high, and although he looked a little conspicuous, he also showed his dribbling game. After his big night, he is up 44 percent from 3 on the season and continues to prove that teams need to protect him outside the arc.

Playing Art

Playing is another area where Brown’s play has progressed. He did not have to do much of it when he arrived in Boston, but that has changed as he has taken on a bigger role in the offense, especially this season with Gordon Hayward and Kemba Walker on the sidelines due to a knee injury.

Brown accepted the challenge and is averaging 3.4 assists per game, which would be a best career. He is reading better as he climbs into the lane, as you can see here. (Later in the ball handling section, there is another example.)

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

Bale handling

It may sound simple, but one underlying reason for Brown’s success in the previous two areas is that he can dribble much better. His handle is stiffer and faster, and he can now move confidently in tight spaces, pass people and create opportunities for himself and teammates.

Just look at how comfortable he is here in putting together a few moves in combination before getting 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 did not have these skills early in his career.

Brown’s continued improvement throughout his career has been quite a joy to watch, and it’s a testament to his desire to be great. We hear a lot about players making the leap, but not so much about those who gradually improve their game year after year. Brown followed the less glamorous route, but he arrived at the destination the same.

There was doubt about him when he was named the overall number 3 in 2016, and he has been dealing with trade rumors for years, but he is only getting better and proving why Danny Ainge had confidence in him.