For Boston Celtics wing Jaylen Brown, playing time was never a guarantee in his rookie season. Brown was given opportunities at the start of the season, but he was expected to earn his playing time as a two-way player like everyone else on the Celtics roster.
In a story on The Vertical this weekend, Brown recalled what being a high-level draft pick entailed on a team that would eventually compete in the Eastern Conference Finals.
“You’ve got to adapt,” Brown told the Vertical’s Michael Lee. “You’ve got to grow up quickly. You’ve got to do what needs to be done. Got to mature very fast. In the NBA, there is no babysitters or none of that. So, you’ve got to come out, be ready to go and do your thing.”
Brown was a useful player last season as a rookie, particularly on the defensive end. While he was far from perfect (no rookie ever will be), his athleticism allowed him to switch onto smaller players, and he was well-built for a rookie, which allowed him to defend bigger players if necessary.
Offensively, meanwhile, Brown had positive moments. He shot 34.1 percent from the NBA 3-point line, which was better than his total the year before at the shorter college line. He struggled from the free-throw line, making just 68.5 percent of his attempts, but he forced his way to the line relatively well and showed flashes as a ball handler (even though his offensive role was almost entirely limited to spacing the floor, cutting and getting out in transition).
And, of course, Brown showed he can finish above the rim, even through contact.
Now, rookie Jayson Tatum finds himself in a situation nearly identical to Brown’s, if not even more difficult. He was the No. 3 pick in the 2017 NBA draft, a highly regarded one-and-done wing. He’s much too valuable a player and asset to sit on the bench all year, but the Celtics are now established. They made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. They have lots of wings, including Brown (a No. 3 pick) and Gordon Hayward,…