Boston Celtics: Composure from younger players is their best weapon

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images /

It started at the beginning of the season and we are still seeing the effects. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were asked to step up in a pivotal time with national exposure. They rose to the occasion and the Boston Celtics have been riding high since.

In the first minutes of their opening night game, the entire Boston Celtics squad encountered something only a few players endure. They were on the court to witness a graphic injury to one of their superstars and newly acquired foundation piece. They all saw Gordon Hayward‘s twisted ankle and suffered the same gut-churning feeling we all did, only they had to continually walk, run and jump over an area that a teammate had earlier suffered a season-ending injury.

When you see something like that, it never leaves you. It just builds on top of other memories and feelings that at first thought make you shudder at the pain, but at second thought make you think how lucky you really are.

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are no different and have capitalized on every opportunity they have been given. In most rookies, you see an obvious hesitation period. For some it lasts a few seasons, while others shake it off in their first season. For Tatum, his hesitation was gone the second he huddled up without Hayward in the lineup.

His expectations did not change. Everyone knows that rookies need time to develop and get used to the speed of the NBA. He was expected to stretch the floor as best he could, while learning how to use his size and length effectively on offense. Basically, his expectations were to just get comfortable while Hayward, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford spearheaded the offensive burden. When Hayward went down, everyone looked for someone to step up and Tatum did.

How Jaylen Brown has opened Tatum’s game even though it didn’t need to

Despite everything Tatum has done, without Jaylen Brown stepping up at the same time, perhaps with more impact, Tatum would not be nearly as successful. Jaylen Brown has become one of the better two-way players in the conference while filling a scoring gap for the Celtics. When Hayward went down, both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum simultaneously jumped into the spotlight and started to thrive.

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Both Brown and Tatum experienced the same weight dropping onto their shoulders, but even without each other, their work on offense would be successful. The only thing this season has done is put a turbo button on the Celtics player’s development.

Brown immediately started off the season by shooting and going to score on nearly every opportunity, a trend that is still true 18 games in. His athletic ability and high-release jump shot have turned him into a source for offense, which have turned into a support block for other Celtics like Tatum.

No shooter goes perfect from the field and neither will any Celtic. While Brown can hit from the outside, he is not spacing the offense by creating his own shot. Out of Brown’s 4.8 3-point attempts per game, nearly all of them are catch-and-shoot. While he has an effective outside game (40.2 percent from downtown), he is more efficient from mid-range, exactly the range where Tatum can perfectly complement Brown’s weakness.

Per, Brown attempts around three more shots a game than Tatum. Both hit from the outside at a similar rate (a stellar 46 percent for the rookie), though Tatum only takes 2.8 3-pointers per game.

How this all helps the team

According to, Brown and Tatum account for the most amount of points on the Celtics, in the fewest number of minutes. For being the younger players on the team, they have no problem producing on offense and have sub-97.0 Defensive Ratings to even it out. The thing is, the biggest impact that Tatum and Brown have goes beyond the numbers.

When that first game continued, the lingering thought of the season possible coming to a standstill hung in the air. Viewers watched the Celtics play the same type of aggressive basketball they were known for, while Brown went for 25 points and Tatum secured a double-double in the season debut.

Brown’s ferocity on offense made him seem fearless, which infected the rest of the team. Most importantly it infected Tatum. Tatum turned a corner his first game and looked comfortable with the ball in his hands, used his body well and wasn’t pushed around on defense.

When the team sees the rookie asserting himself, it inspires the rest of the team to do the same. For the Celtics, they have a continuous train of inspiration that started with Jaylen Brown, was quickly passed to Jaylen Brown and now is in the hands of players like Daniel Theis, Shane Larkin, Sami Ojeleye, and Aron Baynes.

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Production from Tatum, Brown and other rotational players is expected, but when one of the previously mentioned bench players starts to contribute, the entire team benefits from an emotional standpoint. The only thing that makes winning better is when everyone gets to contribute. The Celtics have reaching the threshold of becoming a truly elite team, and through the first month and a half, they are carving their own path to the Finals.