Aylmer: Brown Playing Well, but Still Tradableby Prime Time Sports Talk April 26, 2018 0 comments
Second-year forward Jaylen Brown and his career-high 34 points were one of the few bright spots for his Boston Celtics team during their 104-102 Game 4 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Now with 23.8 points per game in the postseason, Brown currently leads Boston in playoff scoring. At just 21-years old, if he continues his current scoring pace the former third overall pick in 2016 would be the youngest player in the historic Celtics franchise to accomplish this feat.
It’s been a great run in the postseason spotlight for the former University of California standout, but one that should be enjoyed with tempered expectations. Brown is on a hot streak right now and has made significant improvements from the player he was as a rookie.
While playing almost twice as many minutes per game this season as he had in the year prior, (17.2 in 2016-2017 to 30.7 in 2017-2018) Brown upped his nightly averages in nearly every category on the boxscore.
In 78 games a year ago, Brown totaled per game averages of 6.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, 0.8 assist, and 0.4 steals, shooting 45.4 percent clip from field goal range with a 34.1 percent mark from behind the arc.
This season, he has played in 70 games, averaging 14.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.6 assets, and 1.0 steals, while knocking down 46.5 percent of his field goal opportunities and 39.5 percent of his tries from three point range. Brown has made some fantastic strides in his game, transitioning from role player to regular starter in just his first two seasons in the NBA. It’s been a year of impressive growth for Brown, a player with plenty of potential to keep ascending, but none of this makes Brown untouchable on the trade market.
Big man Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard are the biggest names rumored to be destined for a change of scenery in the summer. Either player would be worth a return package from Boston that included Brown along with draft picks, and potentially Terry Rozier and Al Horford as well. The argument that a deal like this would mess with the Celtics’ team chemistry is invalid at this point. Horford, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, and Amir Johnson were four of Boston’s five starters during a 2016-2017 campaign that saw the Celtics go 53-29 through the regular reason.
Fast forward to the following year and only Horford is still suiting up for Boston, but the Celtics still improve on their win total from the previous season, going 55-27. Head coach Brad Stevens can win with almost anyone, especially All-NBA caliber guys like Leonard or Davis.
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have proven that depth in the NBA is overrated to an extent. With James, Cleveland is a Finals contender and without him. the team likely would have struggled to secure the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed. The NBA is a superstar driven league and James, the best basketball player in the world, has the talent to take a franchise from nothing to champions. Boston can afford to lose Brown, Rozier, Horford, and literally everyone else on their roster not named Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, or Jayson Tatum and still be competitive if it means adding Davis or Leonard.
The King’s reign in the East is coming to a close as James fights to will his Cavs past a Victor Oladipo lead Indiana Pacers squad. The time is now for the Celtics to pounce on the final piece of their championship puzzle if the right player becomes available.
The only real question here should be are the Spurs or Pelicans willing to move their respective stars. Leonard’s relationship with the Spurs seems to be nearing a breaking point, despite reports that San Antonio is not looking to move the former 2014 NBA Finals MVP.
Meanwhile, though Davis has largely taken himself out of the trade conversation by leading New Orleans in a postseason sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers, the good feelings could be short-lived. A combination of DeMarcus Cousins leaving in free agency, almost no cap space for the Pelicans next offseason, and a looming second-round matchup with the Golden State Warriors which could get ugly for the Pelicans, all have the potential to flip that narrative quickly.
The summer of 2018 will be an interesting one for the Celtics’ front office, as it could turn out to be anything from non-eventful to franchise altering.