Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
As far as the elite of the elite two-way guys, I think everybody gives a great effort because if you don’t you’re in trouble in this league. But there are a few that really stand out.”
And Leonard stands out as arguably the best two-way player in the NBA.
Both he and Brown have a similar build (both are 6-7) in addition to spending their time in college often matched up with defending bigger players, which raised some concerns as to how effective either would be in the NBA defensively.
Leonard silenced those critics years ago and Brown seems to be heading down a similar track now.
Sherrod Blakely’s got an article up with a comparison that I’d never considered: Kawhi Leonard as a model for Jaylen Brown’s development, although, in researching this morning’s dump, it was a not altogether uncommon theme in 2016’s draft previews and reviews.
Jaylen modeling his game after Kawhi is an interesting thought. One of the aspects that Leonard’s new coach brings out is that the prototypical ‘two-way’ player starts off with a defensive focus:
“Most two-way guys start out as good defensive players,” Nurse said. “They’ve got the makeup inside”
Blakely also points out something about Jaylen Brown that went largely unnoticed when the Celtics drafted him:
Fortunately for him, he was coached by Cuonzo Martin, who pushed Brown to improve his overall game with a particular focus on becoming a better defender.
For Brown, Martin’s prodding to become better defensively was easy to buy into.
“The mindset was there, always,” Brown said. “The technique is what I really needed to work on. I didn’t have the techniques or the reps at a high level going against better talent. I had been playing against high school talent. It’s different when you get to college. It’s different when you get to the league. I didn’t have the defensive techniques. I didn’t have the repetitions. I didn’t have the experience guarding shooting guards, point guards, chasing them off screens, having the right footwork.
When the Celtics drafted Brown, little was said about his defense. The focus then was on how awful his offensive stats were:
In the stats-only portion of Kevin Pelton’s draft projections model, Brown ranked an impossibly low 101st among all draft-eligible prospects with a WARP (wins above replacement player) of minus-0.5. While a decent number of players have been taken in the first-round teens and 20s with a negative WARP, only two players have been selected in the top 10 with a negative WARP since 2006 — Austin Rivers (minus-0.1) at No. 10 in 2012 and Joe Alexander (minus-0.1) at No. 8 in 2008.
(That article also includes a reminder of just how unpopular the Jaylen Brown pick was at the time: ‘”Fourteen years, that’s probably the worst [reaction] I’ve gotten,” Grousbeck said’)
Of course, Jaylen Brown isn’t “the next Kawhi Leonard”. In terms of disposition, the two are rather different and hopefully, Brown’s tenure with the Celtics doesn’t end the way Leonard’s tenure with the Spurs ended.
Page 2: Where even Danny Ainge has more butterflies than usual
“There’s some uncertainty whether we can reach our potential and reach the expectations,’’ he said. “I think that we all — our fans, our players, our coaches — have high expectations for us, and, with expectations, comes a much more difficult mental battle to overcome. The last couple years, we haven’t had the same kind of expectations that we have now.
“Yes, we have more talent [and] we have more depth, but, with that and our recent success has come more expectation. How we manage all that, that’s where the uncertainty is. Brad has a lot of tough questions because we have so much equality in our roster.’’
Ainge said the uncertainty generates a few more preseason butterflies than usual, but he emphasized “that’s what makes it fun.’’ Regardless of Tuesday’s result, Ainge knew there would be plenty to learn as the team tackles the larger task at hand.
Each of the last four years has brought more expectations than the year before, and ever since the Celtics squeaked into the playoffs in 2015, they’ve exceeded them.
At the same time, expectations for this season are as high as they’ve been since 2009. If nothing particularly bad happens to the team’s health, pretty much everyone with sense expects them to be in the Finals, and the only way they can exceed those expectations is by winning a championship.
The rest of the links:
Boston Herald: Kyrie Irving, Celtics expect a special atmosphere in Toronto