The trajectory of the Celtics’ championship hopes over the long term have largely been tied to the development of Jayson Tatum. The All-Star showed clear signs of turning into a top-tier No. 1 option in the second half of last season and a step forward on that front this year would put him among the top 10-15 players in the NBA.
However, there is another young player on this roster who arguably had more untapped opportunities awaiting him as this season began. With Kemba Walker sidelined and Gordon Hayward heading out the door for more opportunity (and money) in Charlotte, Jaylen Brown was going to be thrown into the fire as a No. 2 scoring option night in and night out, a role he was given here and there (when injuries struck) over his first four NBA seasons.
In year five, there would be no uncertainty about his spot in the pecking order. The Celtics needed Brown to score 20-plus points every night and do it while defenses had a greater focus on him. With a pair of playmakers gone around him, Brown would also need to create for himself and others more if the C’s were going to hold their own in the Eastern Conference playoff picture until reinforcements arrived.
All in all, the first week of the regular season has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for Boston as a whole but the most consistent Celtic on the roster looks like none other than Brown to date. The swingman capped a sensational start to the year on Wednesday night with a career-high 42 points in just 29 minutes, leading the charge for a wire-to-wire rout at the TD Garden for Boston over the Grizzlies.
Brown's 42 points weren’t as impressive as his efficiency in this one. He went 15-of-21 from the field and 7-of-10 from 3-point range, setting career-highs in both categories while also adding five points at the free-throw line and tying a team-high with four assists.
Every bucket from JB's career-high 42-point night. pic.twitter.com/UlI6WGiIWe
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 31, 2020
“I always thought that I could shoot the ball,” Brown said of his hot night. “I never doubted myself. In college I had a year that I probably didn’t shoot the ball as good and all the analytic guys – I only had one year of college and everybody just jumped the gun. But I feel like I’ve always been able to shoot the ball and I never let myself lose confidence."
“Obviously he had his shot really going,” Brad Stevens added. “He hit some really tough ones at the end of the second quarter, even the ones he hit in the third I thought were pretty well-contested. But I thought the energy we played with as a team led to the ball going in, in a good way. We came out with the right mentality coming out of yesterday.”
The needed growth in Brown's offensive role has led to him thriving while being a focal point of the offense on a nightly