Jaylen Brown won’t be 21 years old until October. Jimmy Butler was 22 years old for his rookie season in the NBA. Yes, right now Jimmy Butler is a more productive player than Jaylen Brown. Everyone knows this. However, if we project forward in a realistic way this may not be the case three years from now.
Celtics fans want to win now and there seems to be this snowballing expectation of a massive trade coming to instantly vault the Cs into title contention. However, do ALL Celtics fans want to trade a bundle of “assets” for someone like Jimmy Butler? Not necessarily.
Let’s take a look at a comparison between Jaylen Brown and Jimmy Butler. Nobody knows what will happen in the future. Butler could improve even more and Brown could go south or vice versa. Jimmy Butler is an excellent player no doubt. But, he has not led his team on any deep playoff run into the Finals or a Championship win. This isn’t to knock Jimmy Butler but rather just to ask if he, or any one particular player, is automatically worth a chunk of Celtics assets just to generate some immediate buzz and expectation for a title.
As stated earlier Jaylen Brown is still 20 years old and Jimmy Butler was 22 for his rookie season. The following chart shows the 36 Minute Splits for Jimmy Butler in his FIRST THREE SEASONS compared to where Jaylen Brown is right now more than 50 games into his rookie season as a 20 year old kid:
|Per 36 Minute Splits|
Granted, Jaylen is currently benefitting from the absence of Avery Bradley in picking up minutes but there is no disputing he has been making progress in the last month or so. As you can see above Jaylen Brown, two years younger than Butler was at the same point in his career, is already more productive than Butler was during all three of his first seasons in the NBA. One could also argue Jaylen is on a better trajectory shooting the 3 which is critical for the Celtics offense.
I see no way Ainge would include Jaylen Brown in a trade for Butler or in any trade unless it brought The Greek Freak to the Cs somehow. It is possible, but certainly not definite, that the Celts already have a budding All Star in Jaylen Brown.
Furthermore this gets at the overall concept of packing at least one of the Brooklyn picks with a few pieces such as Smart, Crowder, and/or Olynyk all in exchange for only ONE player. Is that really worth it? Butler is in his sixth season and Paul George is in his seventh season. Both are excellent players but the numbers suggest they may have already reached their peak. Assuming you traded for one and gave up a chunk of assets and that new player performed exactly as they have the last two seasons, would this push you over the top? Would this set you up for a five year stretch of dominance?
Getting back to Jaylen Brown, time will tell how he evolves and what he becomes. He is only a 20 year old kid and by all indications it appears he has a strong desire and work ethic to be a winner and a legitimate player in the NBA. Celtics Coach Brad Stevens has done wonders helping the careers of guys like Evan Turner and Isaiah Thomas so let’s see what he can do with Jaylen Brown. People seem to forget it can take time to develop players and it is very rare for a 1st or 2nd year player to do what Magic, Larry, Michael, and Lebron did immediately. Something to consider before dumping enormous assets in exchange for one player that has yet to lead his team into a Finals appearance.
Should Ainge bet the farm on getting one player that he might already have?