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Cal Basketball: Jaylen Brown Ratchets His Game to a Still Higher Level

But would the Celtics actually consider trading him to get James Harden?

Jaylen Brown keeps getting better.

The one-time Cal standout is on the precipice of stardom as his fifth NBA gets under way.

He scored 33 points in the Boston Celtics’ opening-day win over the Milwaukee Bucks then followed that with 27 more against the Brooklyn Nets

His 30.0 scoring average is second-highest in the NBA among those who have played at least two games. The 24-year-old also is averaging 6.5 rebounds an 3.5 assists as the Celtics prepare to play the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.

Yes, it’s a very small sample size, but check out Brown’s numbers over the first two games in each of his five professional seasons since being drafted No. 3 overall by the Celtics in 2016:

2016-17: 8.5 points per game

2017-18: 21.5

2018-19: 12.5

2019-20: 16.5

2020-21: 30.0

Kendrick Perkins and Jaylen Brown

Kendrick Perkins & Jaylen Brown

Former NBA player Kendrick Perkins, now an NBA commentator, shared his views about Brown on ESPN’s “First Take” this week:

“I thought that last year he got snubbed — he should have been an all-star. He was a guy that averaged 20 points on 49-percent shooting, could lock you up on the other end.

“Look what he did in the bubble when Gordon Hayward went out. He stepped his game up tremendously. One could argue that he was the most consistent player on the Celtic roster.

“And now you have Kemba being out and Jaylen Brown, it’s his time right now to show the world, show the Celtics fans that he’s an elite player and his name deserves to be mentioned in the conversation with the elite wings when you mention Kawhi Leonard, Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, Paul George. Jaylen Brown should be right there in the thick of things.”

Boston guard Kemba Walker is out with a left knee injury for which he received a stem-cell injection in the offseason. He is not even scheduled to be re-evaluated until early January, so his return date is uncertain.

Perkins was right about Brown elevating his game in the “bubble” of the NBA playoffs this summer. After averaging a career-high 20.3 points in the regular season, Brown pushed that to 21.8 points in 17 postseason games. And he scored at a 24.2 clip the final nine playoff games.

Tom Westerholm of boston.com sent some praise in Brown’s direction, even after the loss to the Nets.

“Brown looks like a completely different player than the springy forward who entered the NBA to boos from Celtics fans who wanted Jimmy Butler,” Westerholm wrote. “He worked on his shot and became a good 3-point shooter (although he was 0-for-4 against Brooklyn.) He worked on his handle and became a good slasher. Now, he appears to have found a way to work on his feel as well.”

Westerholm noted Brown’s ability to make paint-to-corner passes out of the pick-and-roll have added to his offensive repertoire.

“Brown has been the best player in consecutive games for a team that desperately needs him to take a leap this season,” Westerholm wrote.

Against this backdrop is talk that Brown could be involved in a potential trade with Houston for disgruntled James Harden.

Credible NBA reporters, including ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, have confirmed a report by The Athletic that Boston and Houston have engaged in some trade talks. Whether Brown might be involved is another matter.

Jaylen Brown on Instagram

Brown threw some shade on the rumors by posting a photo on his Instagram page that shows him flexing with Harden in the background.

Here’s what Yahoo wrote about the Instagram post:

“It's hard to ignore the timing of Brown's photo, which just so happens to feature a dejected Harden in the background. The Instagram story was posted shortly after The Athletic's report on Harden.

“Perhaps it's just a coincidence, but it certainly appears Brown isn't crazy about the idea of Harden shaking things up on the Celtics. Especially since the 24-year-old likely would be involved in any package that would bring the 2017-18 NBA MVP to Boston.”

For now, at least, Jaylen Brown is playing for the Boston Celtics. And he’s playing better than ever.

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Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo