BOSTON — Jaylen Brown acquitted himself well in the Celtics’ run to the Eastern Conference finals, but losing to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games still hurts the rookie forward.
“Getting to the Eastern Conference finals and losing, it builds a hunger,” Brown said after Cleveland’s 135-102 Game 5 win Thursday night at TD Garden. “I have a bad taste in my mouth. Got to put in work in the offseason and come back even stronger.”
That bad taste will motivate Brown entering the summer, where he’ll work on “everything” in his game with the hopes of making a larger impact for the Celtics in his sophomore season.
“I think I’m an all-around basketball player. Shooting — a lot of people doubted my jump-shooting ability this year and still doubting. I’m going to keep improving every year, that’s my goal,” Brown said. “Ball-handling, I want to really focus on making plays for others. Just continue to get better in every aspect of my game. I don’t consider myself a position. I just consider myself a basketball player.”
Shooting definitely is an area for Brown to improve. He was a 34 percent 3-point shooter as a rookie. That’s not a bad mark, but becoming a more reliable long-distance shooter will open up more opportunities for him to use his rapid first step and athleticism to drive to the basket. He’s shown to be a quality finisher at the rim off dribble penetration.
Brown averaged 9.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game with a 58.6 shooting percentage in the conference finals. He scored a career-high 19 points in Game 2 of the series and played pretty decent defense on Cavs forward LeBron James in a small sample size. Brown’s length and athleticism were valuable against scoring wings such as James.
Playing a meaningful role on a conference finalist is an invaluable experience for a rookie. Brown believes playing on one of the league’s best teams — instead of a struggling club like…