Never Trade Jaylen Brown
The desire to Trade Jaylen has always been insane, and should not be tolerated from Celtics fans
If you are NOT a Celtics fan and are reading this, I have one message for you: No, you cannot have Jaylen Brown. He’s not available.
One of the most mind-boggling things to see as a Celtics fan this season is the rise in “trade Jaylen” discourse.
I understand the team has been frustrating to watch at times, but Jaylen Brown has not been one of the reasons.
Even before scoring 50 points on Sunday against the Magic, the criticism he has received seems unwarranted, making him a scapegoat for other problems on the roster.
I’ll be honest, I have not watched the team much since Thanksgiving, but Jaylen played 5 of 18 games between November 6 and December 10. The first 8 games he missed, the Celtics went 5-3 and the narrative became how set the team should be once he returns. He played 5 games after that, the C’s went 3-2, and then was out again for 5 more games (a West Coast road trip). The Celtics went 1-4 on the West Coast trip, and that seemed to be the beginning of the rise of the “trade Jaylen” narrative.
But why? He wasn’t even playing!
I think part of the reason could be the Celtics are not as loaded with assets as they once were and some fans believe Jaylen is the best asset we have (since Tatum is going nowhere), and trading him is the only way to improve the team.
I understand that logic… at the same time… and I’m only gonna say this once… Ben Simmons is not better than Jaylen Brown, and the Celtics would not get better in that trade. That is the case with practically any other Jaylen Brown proposal.
In my opinion, I think the rumors are fueled on two fronts:
It’s sexy to pit the two star players against each other when things aren’t going well and create some sort of divide. “Whose team is it?” was a type of question that people were asking about the GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS when they had Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, as if it mattered what the “hierarchy” was when you had two of arguably the ten greatest players in NBA history.
Other teams realize Jaylen Brown is good, meaning the rise in “trade Jaylen” discourse is not coming from a desire on Boston’s end to trade him, but a desire from other teams to sow discord and hopefully pry him away from the Celtics.
I know some Celtics fans are tired of making excuses about the past 1.5 seasons, but the reality is games are being played during an unprecedented time, and the Celtics have been hurt by that more than practically any team in the association.
If you click on the photo above (found by @lissmx14 on Twitter), you’ll see that since the NBA returned from bubble play at the beginning of last season, the Celtics have seen their players spend more time in COVID protocols than any other team in the league. Max goes on to show they led the league in this metric last season, and are currently second in the league (behind the Bulls) this season.
Whether we like to admit it or not, that is significant.
Combine that with the image above, which shows the past 2 seasons the Celtics have seen practically no consistency due to constantly changing lineup combinations, there’s a reason things haven’t been as smooth since the end of the 2019-2020 season.
When the Celtics departed the bubble, they had just completed a season where they went 48-24 (approximately 55 wins in an 82-game season if you go by winning percentage).
In the offseason the team lost Gordon Hayward, Brad Wanamaker and Enes Kanter, replacing them with Tristan Thompson and Jeff Teague (as well as drafting Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard).
Last season the team went 36-36 (41 wins in an 82-game season). Year-to-year variance in record is normal, but to go from essentially 55 wins to 41… other factors were at play.
Gordon Hayward was a good player, hurt a lot but still good, but he was not worth 14 wins to the Celtics, he simply wasn’t. The team was 14-6 WITHOUT him during the regular season in 2019-2020, and won two playoff rounds without him in the playoffs.
Last season we saw Kemba Walker not the same due to a chronic knee injury, Jayson Tatum miss time due to COVID (and a struggle with recovery from it). Marcus Smart missed a significant chunk of time, and Jaylen had a season-ending wrist injury in early May.
Okay, so lots of things changed in the offseason. Kemba out, Horford in. Semi out, Josh Richardson in. Teague out, Schroder in. Tristan out, Kanter in. Danny Ainge out, Brad Stevens in (at POBO). Brad Stevens out (as coach), Ime Udoka in.
The roster stabilized for the better… but the record has not (at this time).
Why? Again, there has not been consistency due to bad luck. No, this team is not as deep as it was when Kyrie was here, but they still have their two best players from 2019-2020 when they won 55 games and surrounded them with better talent than they year prior.
There are still minor moves to be made to rejuvenate the roster, but I simply will not accept this current team is a .500 level squad. I simply will not accept that trading Jaylen Brown is the answer to the problems at hand
Jaylen has a +5.3 plus/minus per 100 possessions while on the court this season, as well as a +7.4 on/off plus/minus per 100 possessions this season. I understand the sample size may not be the best, but I still believe this shows he is making an impact this season on the court to the betterment of the team.
He does not currently qualify in this metric due to the amount of games he has missed, but on a per 75 possessions scale he is averaging 26.2 PPG, which would be good for 9th in the NBA (just ahead of Jayson Tatum!) He can put up buckets with the best of them.
The goal of the offseason for Brad Stevens in my eyes (laid out by another great follow on Twitter, @birdstache) was to build a strong defense around the Jays, allowed them to carry less of a burden on that end of the floor in addition to complementing their strength as transition scorers.
Let everyone else do their job on defense while the Jays take care of the offense. It’s a formula that still sounds great to me, and I think is feasible as the team is seeing players return from COVID protocols.
I’ll end this piece with a point made by another great follow on Twitter, @TA1297:
NBA History @NBAHistoryJaylen Brown (career-high 50 points, 11 rebounds) is the 4th @celtics player with 50+ points and 10+ rebounds in a game. The others are Larry Bird (twice), Kevin McHale and Jayson Tatum. https://t.co/HGpcU9UuG4
THE JAYS ARE NOT IN THEIR PRIMES. Since April we have seen a 60-point game from Tatum and a 50-point game from Jaylen! At the ages of 23 and 25! That’s amazing!
Everyone in the NBA is searching for wings that can play both sides of the ball and create for themselves on offense. The Celtics have two!
As fun as it is to scapegoat when the going gets tough and create fun narratives with star names, the reality of the situation is the Celtics have their two best players in place. It might not be sexy to talk about depth or supporting cast, but that is where the problem lies for this team… well, that is if we actually get to see them play at full strength for an extended amount of time.
I know Celtics fans HATE hearing this, but I promise you: BE PATIENT. Jayson Tatum is a generational talent, and Jaylen Brown is EXACTLY who you want surrounding him. The coaching can be better, the complimentary pieces can be better… But my god, I think the biggest problem the past 13 months is luck.
If Lucky the Leprechaun is listening, just let these guys stay healthy for a few months and see what happens.
I have faith that consistency and hard work will pay off.