Kevin McHale believes Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward should prefer trust over being liked during a pivotal season in their respective careers.
The Boston Celtics legend offered some advice to the Celtics guards for 2019-20 season, telling them Saturday on NBA TV they should capitalize on whatever role head coach Brad Stevens assigns. Hayward and Brown both are vying to lock down places in the starting lineup during training camp, alongside guards Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart, forward Jayson Tatum and center Enes Kanter.
“First of all, I expect Jaylen Brown to walk into camp and say ‘why is everybody saying I’m the sixth man?’ McHale said. “‘How about I beat out Gordon Hayward, and (he’s) the sixth man?’ Here’s the deal: one of those two guys will be coming off the bench, and they’ve got to embrace it.
“If it is Jaylen Brown, he has got to come out and say ‘I’m going to be the sixth man of the year, I’m going to play so well, I’m going to make the All-Star team coming off the bench. You’ve got to embrace that role … That’s up to the coaching staff to sell it and for his teammates to say how valuable you are. Because if you have a guy coming off the bench who can flat out play, it gives you a huge advantage.
McHale then applied one of legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach’s favorite basketball maxims to Brown’s and Hayward’s situations.
“I’ll tell you what Red Auerbach once told me: ‘the coach may start who he likes, he finishes with who he trusts.’ When you’re out there at the end of the game, that means he trusts you.
While Hayward and Brown undoubtedly want the Celtics to bounce back from last season’s disappointment, their individual storylines point to 2019-20 as a pivotal season for differing reasons. Hayward is out to prove he has recovered fully from the catastrophic leg injury he suffered on opening night in 2017 and perhaps return to All-Star form. Brown is entering a contract year and hopes to net his first big payday in the NBA.
Chances are they’ll be able to accomplish their respective individual goals by heeding McHale’s advice.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images