There are similarities between San Antonio Spurs rookie Keldon Johnson and a rookie version of Boston Celtics wing Jaylen Brown, who’s beasting in the ECF.
Upon entering the league, many questioned just how good San Antonio Spurs rookie Keldon Johnson could be in the professional ranks. His understated freshman season at Kentucky didn’t match his scouting rank as a high school player, but the talent has been there all along. There is some serious overlap between the Spurs’ rook and Celtics wing Jaylen Brown.
During his first NBA season, Brown averaged just 6.6 points and 2.8 rebounds per contest, making the All-Rookie second team. After an exceptional campaign at Cal, Brown went third overall and was heavily criticized for his smaller role with the Celtics. Over time, Brown worked diligently to establish himself as one of the game’s more complete players with a deadly scoring profile and expert defensive acumen.
These things take time — Not every NBA player is going to be an overnight success. Brown’s usage and talent took years to establish, slowly improving with each passing season. Patience is the key to success and now, Brown is averaging 21.5 points per game in the 2020 NBA playoffs. The 23-year-old has been particularly effective since Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. In his previous eight games, Brown is averaging 24 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.9 steals on 51.7 percent from the field and 40.7 percent from deep.
Jaylen Brown back-to-back 3s ?
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 26, 2020
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Johnson isn’t a player with a particularly strong handle, but his defensive instincts and finishing ability are already extremely effective. The same applied to Brown when he was in Keldon’s position — His jumper looked decent from early on, but he wasn’t the type of player to create his own offense very often.
Since that time in his career, Brown has worked diligently to become a reliable shot creator whose creativity and basketball intellect combine for consistent output and an underrated playstyle. While he has yet to make an All-Star game, Brown is widely considered one of the league’s better two-way athletes who makes a tremendous impact on his team.
Maybe he’s not going to be the player who gets all of the hype and coverage from the early stages of his career, but Keldon Johnson has a chance to be the San Antonio Spurs’ most impactful player in many of their games. First, he needs to learn how to channel his physicality and wide range of skills before he can hit his stride at the professional level.
Watching and studying Brown’s game is a great way to learn more about the sport he’s dedicated himself to.