Boston Celtics wing Jaylen Brown earned playing time for Brad Stevens last season by becoming a solid defender — versatile and athletic, with long arms and the ability to switch against most opponents.
Current Philadelphia 76ers guard — and former Los Angeles Clipper — J.J. Redick noticed what Brown brings to the table. When asked by HoopsHype reporter Alex Kennedy, Redick mentioned the Celtics’ rookie as one of the defenders who stood out to him last season.
“A guy who did a great job last year was Jaylen Brown,” Redick told Kennedy. “Avery (Bradley) was hurt the first time we played them, so Jaylen guarded me in Boston, and he just did a great job of sticking with me. He has the length, he’s strong, and he’s athletic.”
Redick is the type of player Brown is good at harassing. He can navigate screens well with his athleticism and lateral movement, and his size allows him to close the gaps created by those screens quickly. That was one of the issues Boston ran into with Bradley’s defense last year — Bradley could shut down just about anybody on the ball, but a screen could create enough separation against the shorter Bradley for an opponent to get a shot off the catch. Washington in particular found ways to exploit that in the Eastern Conference semifinals, utilizing a maze of screens to take advantage of Bradley Beal’s catch-and-shoot brilliance.
The Celtics largely used Smart to contain Beal in that series, but Brown showed how well he could chase opposing players as well — sticking to Bojan Bogdanovic like glue when the sweet shooting forward started punishing the Celtics for their smaller lineups.
If Brown can continue to develop the other aspects of his game, that ability to swing around screens and switch onto smaller players — as well as the departure of Bradley — could earn him significantly more playing time in his second season. His size makes him a solid option next to Isaiah Thomas, helping to cover for the Celtics star’s defensive issues with good team defense. As Brown continues to learn and perfect the schemes, Brad Stevens could help make him into a defensive monster.