Gordon Hayward has a message for Jaylen Brown critics, Celtics defense skeptics


NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-76ers starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 7:30 p.m.

Jaylen Brown is an integral member of the Boston Celtics. But is he really worth $115 million?

That question has been bandied about since the 22-year-old agreed to a lucrative four-year contract extension with the Celtics on Monday.

But Gordon Hayward believes his teammate is worth every penny.

In a Players' Tribune article published Wednesday morning ahead of Boston's season debut against the Philadelphia 76ers, Hayward explained why Brown is so valuable by highlighting a part of his game that may get overlooked.

I’m just so happy Jaylen got his extension done. Because we need him here for a very long time. Jay is one of the best athletes in the entire league, and when he puts his mind to it he can truly be a lockdown defensive player — and I’m talking at multiple positions.

That’s what sets his game apart from a lot of the young wings he gets compared to: A lot of guys, maybe they can lock it down at one spot….. and then “hold their own” at another spot or two. But not that many guys have the ability to legitimately play lockdown D at multiple spots on the court — against bigs and point guards alike.

Brown's offensive stats dipped across the board last season in what could be  for the 22-year-old. But as Hayward points out, Brown still was an excellent defender, and his versatility on that end makes him a key asset for Brad Stevens against increasingly versatile offenses.

To that end, Hayward added a message for the skeptics who think Boston's defense will regress this season with Enes Kanter and Vincent Poirier replacing Al Horford and Aron Baynes in the frontcourt.

"And while we’re here, let me say this: Anyone expecting us to 'fall off' this year defensively? They might be in for a little shock," Hayward wrote.

Hayward and the Celtics clearly are embracing the underdog role this season following Kyrie Irving's departure. That certainly will be the mindset Wednesday night, as the Sixers are home favorites over Boston in the season opener.

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