The Boston Celtics made a bold move at the 2016 NBA Draft selecting University of California forward Jaylen Brown with the no.3 pick. The organization wanted a blockbuster, but the price was too high. Many expected the Celtics to select either Jamal Murray, Buddy Hield or Kris Dunn, but Brown filled a bigger need on the wing. Since it wasn’t a star, fans booed at the TD Garden’s draft party.
A highly criticized pick was praised by former Detroit Pistons point guard Isiah Thomas. He told the Boston Herald,
“When I got to know Jaylen Brown and how he played, I said to him — and this is before the draft process started — I said to him, ‘You’re a Celtic,’ ” Thomas told the Herald later. “He fits the Celtic culture that I played against, that I competed against. That I know.”
Thomas is talking about the Celtics teams with Dennis Johnson, Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale and current General Manager Danny Ainge. They played as a team, competed on a nightly basis and always wanted to improve. That is the attitude Brown is bringing to Boston.
Thomas also said,
“You hate to say this name, but I do see him as a defender first,” Zeke said. “He’s coming into the league with similar defensive skills as a Kawhi Leonard, who can guard a 1, 2 or a 3 out on the perimeter.”
“I do think his offensive game, while it’s good, it’s going to get much better. I think he’ll be an above average 3-point shooter in the league. With his ability to handle the basketball, putting it on the floor — driving right, driving left — he’ll be able to get to the basket, and I do think he’ll be able to get to the line four to five times a night.”
Thomas is a reliable source because he is close with Brown.
“During the course of the year, we texted and talked a lot,” Thomas said. “And after they lost to Hawaii (in the NCAA tournament), two or three days later he was sitting in my living room. He wanted to talk, so he flew here. He took a red-eye from San Francisco, stopped here in New York and we spent two days together just talking about the loss and school and should he come out or stay in.”
Every pro needs a veteran for advice, and Brown’s veteran is Thomas. Thomas believes in Brown and that confidence will help him his entire career. Brown already knows he is perfect for the Celtics.
Brown joins Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder in the starting lineup. He has a chance to shine defensively next to Bradley and Crowder. With Marcus Smart on the bench, the Celtics are loaded with tough, defensive-minded players. Those type of players succeed under Brad Stevens.
Brown has a lot of work to do and his potential is through the roof. He is entering a loyal city that embraces toughness. Thomas, Bradley, Smart and Crowder became a fan favorites because of their toughness. Brown only makes them even tougher. His defensive impact will be made immediately and takes the pressure off Bradley and Crowder to cover opposing stars. Brown isn’t flashy, but he is perfect for Stevens. Give Brown a few seasons to develop and fans will shake their head over booing on draft night.