On Tuesday’s “Ordway, Merloni and Fauria," Christian Fauria kept questioning why everyone insists Jayson Tatum is a better player than Jaylen Brown.
“Based on what?”
I’ve questioned myself over the past few years as to who will be the better player at their respective peaks. I’m a guy who admittedly is a huge fan of Brown’s game and thought he would be the better player heading into the 2019-20 season.
Then we saw a big jump in Tatum’s game in 2019-20, including a dominant run of games last August and continued impressive performance in the playoffs. As good as Tatum was in the most recent playoffs, Brown was just behind him in scoring.
Don’t forget the performance he had on the defensive end against Pascal Siakam just six months ago in the Eastern Conference semifinals. That was eye-opening to me. Siakam never was able to get into a rhythm. The All-NBA second team forward was a non-factor, if not a negative, on the offensive end in large part to Brown. Siakam shot 38 percent from the floor and a sad 12 percent from deep.
From 2018-19 to 2019-20, Brown improved his scoring by 7.3 ppg (13.0 to 20.3), his rebounds increased by over two to 6.4 boards per game, his free throw shooting up over six percent to 72.4 percent, his three-point shooting up nearly four percent to 38.2 percent with his overall shooting percentage jumping over one and a half points.
Brown was so good last season that on Aug. 7 Kendrick Perkins made a declaration that shocked a lot of Celtics and NBA fans.
”Jaylen Brown, to me, is the best all-around shooting guard in the league," Perkins said. “He don’t search for shots. He’s not a high volume scorer. But when you look up at the end of the night, he’s got 20 points on over 50 percent shooting. And he locks up the best guy every single night. You can’t find that!”
While the best all around guard proclamation is a bold one, I’m not sure which guys in the NBA, as of right now, I’d take over Brown. When people say “all around”, I take that as giving equal value to both sides of the floor. So in the context of this argument, guys like Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Klay Thompson when healthy, and now Brown, are all more attractive players than a defensive sieve like James Harden.
In reality, great defense in the NBA is often beaten on a given possession by great offense. Brown was really good last year but had his struggles getting his own at time when defended by capable, athletic guys. Not this year.
It literally doesn’t matter what a defense throws at Brown. Jaylen’s going to get to his spot around the foul line and pull up in your face. Or he will take it strong to the rim and finish through the defender. No finesse garbage that Tatum tends to throw up.
POINTS PER GAME WHILE DRIVING
● 2019-20 Brown: 5.3 peg at 48.8 percent
● 2020-21 Brown: 7 ppg at 57.5 percent
● 2019-20 Tatum: 7.9 ppg at 46.6 percent
● 2020-21 Tatum: 7.6 ppg at 45.6 percent
Maybe the most remarkable improvement has been Brown’s pull-up game.
POINTS PER GAME ON PULL UP JUMPERS
● 2019-20 Brown: 3.6 ppg at 37 percent
● 2020-21 Brown: 7.8 ppg at 51 percent
● 2019-20 Tatum: 8.6 ppg at 40 percent
● 2020-21 Tatum: 10.2 ppg at 41 percent
Those numbers are absurd for Brown. He’s become elite while not having an All-NBA player on his side for five of the team’s 15 games so far this season. Catch-an- shoot threes. Pull up threes or midrange jumpers. He’s doing everything and at an incredibly efficient rate.
The Brown vs Tatum debate may be one that lives on in Boston years to come. OMF put up on poll on Twitter on December 31, 2020 with 49.2 percent choosing Brown and 50.8 percent going with Tatum.
All I know is Boston is incredibly fortunate to have both of these future All-NBA players. And luckily for us, the future may be here sooner than we think.