Chris Forsberg

Four numbers that highlight Jaylen Brown's impact on winning

The Celtics wing has elevated his game in several facets this season.

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Jaylen Brown scored a season-high 40 points on Monday night in Indiana. It probably should have been 42. Let’s not linger on this.

Indiana hasn’t been a very fun place for Boston to visit this season. They fell to the Pacers in the NBA In-Season Tournament in December and Monday’s game was marred by some questionable calls in the final minutes, including as Brown tried to put the Celtics ahead in the closing seconds. 

Brown ought to be back in Indiana next month for the NBA All-Star Game. By his own admission, Brown is playing the most complete basketball of his career and evolving into someone who impacts the game well beyond his obvious scoring talents.

For this week’s Forsberg Four on Celtics Post Up, we put four of Brown’s most notable numbers in the spotlight. Here are four different ways that Brown has helped fuel Boston to the best record in basketball:


That’s the league-leading number of possessions that Brown is averaging per game in transition. No one cranks the pace for the Celtics quite like Brown, who is eager to run and get easy looks while the opposing defenses are scrambling back.

Brown’s 7.6 points per game in transition rank second in the NBA behind only Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (8.3). Brown hasn’t shot as consistently in transition as previous seasons — dropping from 63 percent last year to 55.7 percent this year — and yet we won’t quibble with his intent. The Celtics are at their best when they crank the tempo and Brown is often the catalyst.

Only six players in the NBA average more than five transition possessions per game in Brown, SGA, Giannis Antetokounmpo, De’Aaron Fox, LeBron James, and Donovan Mitchell. Anthony Edwards, who visits TD Garden on Wednesday night with the Timberwolves, is knocking on the door to join that group.

Brown has done a good job limiting his turnovers in transition, and getting that field goal percentage back to typical output will further distinguish him as one of the elite transition players in the league.


That is Brown’s league-leading defensive field goal percentage among all qualifying high-volume players who defend at least 10 shots per game this season. 

Brown is holding opponents to 5.8 percent below their expected field goal percentage, per NBA tracking. That’s a top-10 mark in the league, putting him in a group headlined mostly by centers like Joel Embiid, Bam Adebayo, Rudy Gobert, and Victor Wembanayama.

We did a deeper dive on Brown’s defense earlier in the week. The bottom line is that Brown is more often defending at the point of attack now and using his length and athleticism to disrupt opposing players. 

Brown yearned to earn All-Defense votes and that’s not an easy task considering the defensive talent on Boston’s roster. Still, he’s thrust himself into consideration with his play through the first half of the season.


That is Boston’s net rating this season when Brown is on the court without Jayson Tatum.

Despite all of Boston’s success in recent years, the team routinely struggled to keep its head above water whenever Tatum went to the bench. Even as Brown’s game evolved, the team still didn’t always have a glossy net rating in those minutes. That has changed this year.

The Celtics have a +10.8 net rating when Brown and Tatum share the floor this season. That number barely budges when Brown plays without Tatum. Over the previous four seasons, Boston was a +7.9 when the Jays were together, but that net rating plummeted to +1.4 in Brown’s minutes without Tatum. 

The Celtics can confidently ask Brown to direct the offense without Tatum, and with the way he’s reading the game now, he routinely makes the right play. Certainly the addition of more talent like Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday has aided that process, along with more playing time for Derrick White.

But Boston thriving in the non-Tatum minutes is a huge development, and Brown is doing his part to make sure the team’s play doesn’t dip in those moments.


That is Boston’s true shooting percentage when Brown shares the floor with Porzingis. 

These two have been fast friends in Boston with their chemistry evident both on and off the court. That true shooting percentage, if maintained, would lead the league by 1.8 percent over the league-topping Pacers (61.9). What’s more, it’s 3.3 percent better than Boston’s season mark (60.4), which ranks fourth in the NBA.. 

Boston has a +13.8 net rating when the tandem affectionally dubbed Brozingis share the court. We don’t think of Brown as a high-assist player but he has 34 helpers to Porzingis this year (including 12 3-pointers and 17 rim finishes), making it the fourth most common assist combo on the Celtics' roster.

Brown’s efficiency in the mid-range, coupled with Porzingis’ ability to generate points in the paint or beyond the 3-point arc, has helped Boston thrive in their minutes together.  The Celtics need to continue to take advantage of that combo, particularly in those instances when Tatum isn’t on the floor.

There are still areas Brown can improve upon this season. His rebounding numbers are down — perhaps because he's ceding the floor to Porzingis and Tatum while trying to get out in transition instead. There are still plenty of strides to be made in ball security and limiting turnovers, especially once the playoffs roll around. Brown’s stat line would really pop if his 3-point shot gets back to the 2020-21 level when he shot a career-best 39.7 percent beyond the arc.

But his imprint on winning is evident this year. He’s reading the game better and he’s playing inspired defense.

Brown has positioned himself for another trip to Indy. And maybe that will be a chance to erase some of the bad Indy vibes from earlier in the season.

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