No. 3 Pick Jaylen Brown Has Upside, But Not The Splash Celtics Hoped For

by NESN Staff

June 23, 2016

BOSTON — Jaylen Brown’s tenure with the Celtics got off to a rather ominous start Thursday night.

As NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the Celtics had selected Brown with the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the contingent of fans on hand at TD Garden for the team’s draft party responded with a chorus of boos.

“In 14 years, that’s probably the worst (reaction) I’ve gotten,” Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said in a press conference after announcing the pick to the crowd.

Why no love for Brown? A a 6-foot-7 swingman out of Cal, the 19-year-old Brown is one of the most athletic players in the draft. He fills a need for Boston as a versatile wing and plus defender — especially if Evan Turner doesn’t return in free agency — and was one of Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge’s favorite players entering the draft.

“Danny and the staff feel that (Brown) has significant upside,” Grousbeck said. “He’s already an accomplished player at a young age. We feel that he’s got the physique and the competitive drive and the motor, the skills and, really important, the character and the intelligence. He’s a very, very smart guy.

“… (We’re) really impressed with Jaylen, A to Z, and looking forward to having him in Celtic green.”

Yet there also are red flags with Brown, namely his outside shooting — the Georgia native shot just 29 percent from 3-point range as a freshman at Cal and now joins a Celtics team that ranked 28th out of 30 teams in 3-point percentage this season.

More importantly, though, Celtics fans likely were imagining a different player in Celtic green. The C’s reportedly were in trade talks with several teams while trying to deal the No. 3 pick, with players such as the Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler; the Milwaukee Bucks’ Greg Monroe and Khris Middleton; and Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel of the Philadelphia 76ers rumored to be Boston’s targets.

Yet none of those trades have come to fruition at this point, and Grousbeck said the Celtics weren’t close to making a deal for the No. 3 pick.

“None of (the offers) were even in the mix,” Grousbeck said. “If they were close, we might have stretched. We didn’t feel anything was close.”

Ainge still could trade Brown, of course, but given the team’s apparent affection for the 19-year-old, a deal seems less likely than if the Celtics selected Kris Dunn, who had drawn interest from a number of teams mulling moving up to No. 3.

That’s undoubtedly where Celtics fans’ frustrations lie. Brown is a solid player with plenty of upside, but given the assets at Boston’s disposal entering the draft, the hope was for a bigger splash at No. 3 that would bring in a household name and put the C’s in a position of power entering free agency.

Thumbnail photo via Steven Bisig/USA TODAY Sports Images

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