Personally, I dislike any narrative that pits Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum against each other, and I seriously dislike the talk of who is the Boston Celtics‘ primary and secondary options. Sure, I’ve partaken in those discussions, and I have my opinions, but the truth is, both Tatum and Brown are among the best wings in the NBA, they just get their buckets in different ways.
That’s where the problem is, though. We see Tatum bringing the ball up the court, initiating the offense, attacking double teams, and breaking opponents down off the dribble. We also see Tatum drawing foul after foul, and creating shooting opportunities out of nothing. And that sets the tone for what we expect from Brown.
However, Brown is not the same player.
His skill set is different, he excels at different things and needs to be utilized in a different way. Brown isn’t the guy you want regularly initiating the offense — he can do it, but it’s not where he’s at his best. He’s also not the guy you want trying to create his own shots multiple times per game. And you most certainly don’t want Brown looking to push the pace as the ball-handler — that’s when his dribble becomes problematic.
For the past 2 years, I’ve repeatedly stated my belief that Brown is better served being utilized as a ‘play finisher,’ that thought process has received its fair share of pushback, and that’s fair. However, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Brown’s best games are coming when he’s utilized in a finisher role, and the burden of creation is taken off his shoulders.
One thing that Brown has improved on tremendously in recent seasons is his ability to absorb and finish through contact, and it can be seen in the above play. Curling off a weak side stagger screen, Brown gets the ball at the top of the perimeter and begins a straight line drive to the hoop, taking a bump whilst in the air but still getting the shot to fall. This type of possession is play finisher-esque, Boston put the ball in Brown’s hands, in an area where they know he’s effective, and let him go to work, with little-to-no need for him to focus on manipulating the defense.
We see a similar outcome on this possession. This time, Brown is ‘stampede cutting’ (a fancy way of saying cutting towards the rim without the ball) also known as a ‘slot drive,’ with Marcus Smart running the offense, a quick pocket pass allows Brown to gather the ball and explode to the rim to finish…