The Celtics selected California small forward Jaylen Brown with the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NBA draft.
Brown earned McDonald's All-America honors coming out of high school and was considered by some to be the No.1 player in his recruiting class. He chose to attend California over Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina, among a number of other schools.
Brown averaged 14.6 points, 2.0 assists and 3.0 turnovers per game in his sole season at Cal. The team underachieved, and though he faced scrutiny, it certainly wasn’t all Brown’s fault.
The Celtics made the playoffs this year, falling to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round.
Strengths: Brown’s elite athleticism and strong frame provide bankable building blocks for a useful wing player. He doesn’t shy away from contact and scores well in transition. With added commitment, he may have a better chance of reaching his considerable defensive potential thanks to a massive 7’0” wingspan. When he gets moving downhill he’s a load to stop, and did a good job of getting to the line and leveraging his physicality. Brown was asked to shoulder a lot of offense for Cal, and in a simplified role in the NBA—with more space to operate, no less—better days ought to be ahead for him.
Weaknesses: After entering the year with plenty of hype, Brown’s lone season at Cal was fraught with inefficient scoring. It ended on a low note as injuries plagued the team and Brown struggled with an increased role in the tournament. According to Synergy Sports data, Brown’s scoring efficiency was average or worse in every offensive situation except for transition play. His jump shot isn’t there yet, nor is his decision making. “He’s not the first freak athlete to come along,” one scout said. “If you don’t match that with understanding of how to play, you can float.” As an even larger adjustment to another level of basketball looms, expectations should be tempered a bit, perhaps.
Explanation: Pro-ready point guard Kris Dunn had been rumored as a piece of Boston’s trade talks for this pick here. But the Celtics are going with Brown, whose size and athletic profile on the wing are high-level. There are holes in his game, his year at Cal was imperfect, and he will take some time to adjust to a much faster NBA game. But in Boston — where he can ease into a role and won’t face sky-high expectations — he makes sense. It would appear the Celtics are hanging onto this pick, and ultimately their inability to deal it for a star still stings. Instead, they roll the dice on a guy who could become one. - Jeremy Woo