Boston Celtics: Jaylen Brown and the ‘mind-boggling’ battle with effort

Boston Celtics (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
Boston Celtics (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /

Let’s start with this bold proclamation: If Boston Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown plays the way he did on opening night against the New York Knicks on a consistent basis, watch out NBA.

What is even more scary is that Brown’s performance on opening night came on a night when Jayson Tatum struggled.  When the two both had good nights, like they did against the Charlotte Hornets, they are a force to be reckoned with.

That’s why the team’s 2-3 start is so frustrating for Celtics fans.  Just think about how much more frustrating it is for new head coach Ime Udoka who has already challenged the energy of his team, mainly his two stars.  While Tatum’s body language and energy has been challenged before, the criticism of Brown is a bit of a surprise, but there may be a reason for his lack of effort in the team’s loss to the Washington Wizards at TD Garden.

Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown admits Covid-19 is having an impact

As a player who makes no excuses, Brown has admitted his body may be impacted by his recent battle with COVID-19, which is completely viable and consistent with how other players have been impacted by the virus.

"“It’s mind-boggling to me too,” Brown said, as transcribed by Celtics Blog. “I was surprised that my body didn’t respond the way it normally responds. I’m not able to have that zip, that pop flying up and down the court. It just wasn’t there. I think that was obvious. I don’t think he was out of line or anything for that, so I gotta be better. I gotta get with our medical staff and figure how to get my body to the point where I recognize it where I feel normal. Like some days I feel fantastic, and then it’s like 2-3 days it takes my body too long to get back to feeling fantastic again and that’s an issue for me.”"

As Tatum also experienced last season, it could take some time before Brown is able to put in the type of energy fans are accustomed to on a consistent basis.  From the 46-point performance on opening night to that monstrous dunk on Miles Bridges, Brown has showcased glimpses of taking that next step in his rise to stardom.

So, now the challenge is on how he will manage those stretches in which he feels his body is just not responding.  It is even more of a challenge for Udoka to recognized when Brown’s energy level is down and try to find ways around those stretches during the game.

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Perhaps it is more on Jaylen Brown trying to do too much, therefore the solution is in the players around him coming on the court with the same level of energy so Brown doesn’t need to feel the pressure of picking up the team when they are down…at least until his body and its response is where it should be.

The Celtics head coach echoed this when addressing how he can help his player be more successful on a consistent basis.

"“Try to limit him trying to do it all by himself,” Udoka said when asked how to manage Brown on nights when he lacks energy. “And feel like he has to get himself going. Get him an easy shot. We called a walkaway and he got an easy mid-range pull-up there and tried to get him going there especially when Jayson went out in the fourth quarter. So a lot of different ways to do it, but just when you see it from the get go really grab him and talk to him and tell him you’ve got to carry the load tonight, especially when Jayson’s out.”"

This is where that third scoring option really comes into play.  Whether that person can be Al Horford or Dennis Schröder, the Boston Celtics must be able to keep their scoring energy up when Jayson Tatum is sitting on the bench because the competitor in Jaylen Brown will cause him to burn out trying to do too much.

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In conclusion, the impact of Covid makes way more sense than Brown simply lacking the effort.  Through his rise into stardom, the All-Star wing has been the most critical of his team’s lack of energy on the court at times over the past few seasons.  He is a competitor and a player who wants to win on and off the court.

It just may take awhile before he is able to be a force on the court consistently.  But, make no doubt about it, he certainly wants to be that force.