Can Jaylen Brown Win Rookie of the Year?

Jun 23, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Jaylen Brown (California) hugs supporters after being selected as the number three overall pick to the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 23, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Jaylen Brown (California) hugs supporters after being selected as the number three overall pick to the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /

Is there anyway that Jaylen Brown will be named Rookie of the Year?

There were a lot of boos and head scratching following the selection of Jaylen Brown with the third pick. Even after Danny Ainge begged fans to give him a chance there was still ridicule towards the selection. Although, once Brown suited up for the Boston Celtics summer league team, most of the opinions changed.

Sure, he shot a dreadful 30.7 percent from the field and 27.2 percent from three, but the flashes of what he could become were enough to get excited about, and earn him a spot on the NBA’s All-Summer League Second Team. His 16 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game was one of the most complete stat lines in summer league. Not to mention that Brown went to the line an insane 10.2 times per contest.

He was able to get to the basket, and when he didn’t finish he usually got fouled. Also, Brown was easily the most athletic player on the court most of the time, and his two-way ability helped create fast break opportunities for the Celtics.

As a result of his crazy potential and solid play in July, ESPN ranked Brown sixth on their Rookie of the Year projections. Number one pick Ben Simmons led the way, with Kris Dunn, Brandon Ingram, Buddy Hield and Joel Embiid all ahead of Brown. All six have a chance to start for their respective teams during their rookie season, but can Brown surprise everyone and win the award while coming off the bench?

It would be an extremely rare event as Brown is likely slated for 15-20 minutes per night. With Jae Crowder entering his second season as a full-time starter, it wouldn’t be surprising to see his 31.6 minutes per game increase.

With no players averaging close to 35 minute per game for the Celtics last season, there’s little doubt that Brad Stevens will continue to utilize his deep bench and not tire out his starters. With that being said, Crowder’s minutes per game ranked 61st in the NBA last season, showing that Stevens can loosen the grip of the reigns a little and still be fine. It’s not to say that Crowder needs to see 38.1 minutes like league-leading James Harden did, but 33-34 minutes per night isn’t out of question.

Also, throw in Gerald Green‘s role, and it’s hard to imagine that Brown will see more than 20 minutes per night. Especially when considering last season when then rookies Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter rarely saw the court. Of course, they didn’t hold the intrigue that third pick Jaylen Brown does, but it’s proving that Stevens believes in “earning your minutes” and not just giving away minutes on a deep team.

With that being the case, it doesn’t look like promising for Brown’s chances of taking home the luxurious award. Since 1952-53, only two rookies have won the award while averaging under 30 minutes per game – Mike Miller (2001, 29.1 MPG) and Tom Heinsohn (1957, 29.9 MPG).

Brown only saw 29 minutes per game in summer league (34.8 minutes on 48 minutes scale). That would have only ranked him fourth out of the past six Rookie of the Year winners, and that’s in summer league. As previously noted, his playing time will be inconsistent at times and will decrease during the regular season.

While his playing time compared to other rookies will likely take him out of the running, his numbers will likely just not be good enough either. Ben Simmons showcased his all-around game during summer league and Kris Dunn looked more like a long-time veteran than a rookie. Dunn only played in two games, however, his all-around play was felt just as much as Brown’s, and arguably stronger in most areas.

Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /

Brown’s athleticism, defense and rebounding will buy him minutes off the bench, but that alone won’t set him apart enough, especially when thinking about the inconsistent play he could endure on offense. The Celtics will want Brown to impact the defensive end and help on the glass, in hopes that his jump shot develops over time.

With that being said, a shooting percentage just over 30 percent won’t speak highly when considering other players’ defense will be on par with Brown, and he’s not an exceptional passer. Rookies struggle to shoot: the longer three-point line, faster pace, tougher defense, it happens. LeBron James only shot 41.7 percent from the field as a rookie and Kevin Durant only connected on 43 percent of his shots.

Although, Jason Kidd in 1994-95 was the last player to win Rookie of the Year while shooting under 40 percent from the field (38.5 percent). With that being said, Kidd averaged 7.7 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game in 33.8 minutes that same season – all-around play that’s not realistic to expect out of Brown.

Therefore, Brown’s shooting won’t become a major concern for Boston as a rookie, it only will become one if he doesn’t show progress over his first couple of seasons. But strictly speaking of his rookie campaign, it would take Brown being in the running for Sixth Man of the Year for him to win Rookie of the Year.

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Granted winning teams rarely get to choose in the top-five like the Celtics did, but, there’s a reason why the worst teams end up with the Rookie of the Year – opportunities. Bad teams don’t have options behind them, rather they let them develop and learn from their mistakes. Stevens has Green, Smart and Crowder to replace Brown if he’s having an off-night. Therefore, he won’t play at the end of a close game if he’s struggling.

The Celtics don’t have to rush Brown’s development, which is great news. Although, at the same time, there is close to no chance that Brown takes home Rookie of the Year honors. He’ll be one of the most watched highlight tapes from this year’s class, but the opportunity on Boston isn’t there, and he’s still extremely raw.

In 3-5 years when he’s developed more and has a better understanding of how to use his skill set and big build, Brown will be a force to be reckoned with. Although, time is what Brown needs, and what he’ll get.

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Expect tough defense, solid rebounding and Stevens using him in the right situations to help his growth as a player. He might get a spot start for an injured Jae Crowder, however, he’s not ready to be the star player that goes hand-and-hand with winning Rookie of the Year.