WALTHAM – On Friday afternoon, Celtics’ president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told WEEI’s OM&F that Boston fans should give their No. 3 pick a chance because “they don’t know who Jaylen is.”
During his introductory press availability with the Boston media, Jaylen Brown went a long way to giving everyone a clearer idea of not only who he is but how confident he is that he can help the Celtics take the next step right away.
“I’m overly confident. I believe in myself 100 percent,” Brown said. “I believe in my game and I believe in my work ethic. I don’t anybody works as hard as me, especially not in this draft class. I’m going to go out and show what I can do. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’ll take time. You’ll see.
“It’s set in but it but it hasn’t hit me yet. I haven’t like broken down emotionally. I’m just super ready. I haven’t had time for it to set in. I’ve been traveling. Things have been kind of a whirlwind but I’m ready for Summer League and show the Boston Celtics fans what I can do.”
Maybe it’s the fact that he played his one year of college basketball in the backyard of the Golden State Warriors but Brown believes his versatility will make him a big-time contributor, even in his rookie season, when he will be only 20.
“If you look at kind of the way the league is progressing, you look at the best teams in the world, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, a lot of those guys can play multiple positions and lot of those guys are around the same size as me,” Brown said. “You look at like Draymond Green, LeBron James, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, they play a lot of multiple positions and are able to defend multiple spots on the floor and it helps their team be extremely successful. So, following that [model] has been extremely helpful for me and I think that’s what Brad Stevens, and I’m willing to follow it.”
Brown, despite a season in which he shot just 29.4 percent from beyond the arc, decided he was physically ready for the rigors of the NBA after just one season at Cal. The Celtics, making him the third pick overall, apparently agree.
“I didn’t do it to get picked third overall. It’s obviously a tremendous pleasure but it was the right decision for me and my family. It was a hard one. When you make a decision, you want evaluate everything from top to bottom. There were a lot of things that came out of it but even if I didn’t selected 3, I felt like I was ready. But I’m glad I did and I’m glad to be here in Boston.”
Brown broke tradition somewhat in that he allowed teams to work him out against other prospects.
“I felt like some of the guys probably had a better year than me in college,” Brown said. “I didn’t think I had a really good year at Cal and I think I had a lot more to show and a lot more potential. So, I wasn’t hiding, I wasn’t scared of anybody. I wasn’t trying to cover up anything so I decided to come in [and workout] with some guys and it paid off.
“For me, it was a learning experience in college. Everything was about getting better for me. A lot of guys go to college to try to prove how great they are or prove what they can do and try to cover the things they need to work on. For me, it was laying it all out and re-evaluating from the top. I have a good idea about myself and learned a lot about myself. Now, it’s about moving forward and taking each step to get better.”
Brown did average 14.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2 assists over 34 games. But still, he felt disappointed with the team’s shockingly quick exit against Hawaii in the tournament.
“I just think I could’ve had a lot better year,” Brown said. “[With] my potential, we could’ve gone a lot farther in the [NCAA] tournament and things like that, and we didn’t. I put a lot of blame on myself because being highly-recruited out of high school, I felt obligated to do much better than I did. We came up short. But it’s all about getting better and adding fuel to the flame. So, now I’m here in Boston. Now I’m ready to rip somebody’s head off.
“I think the NBA, in general, 24-second shot clock, a lot of transition, getting up and down, a lot of versatile guys. I want to add to that right away. This is a really good team, a playoff team. Right away, I want to bring energy, I want to bring defensive versatility and just add to that. This is a really good team and have a lot of good vets. Just learning from those guys, I can’t wait. I’m super excited.”
Like the Patriots’ Malcolm Mitchell, Brown has made education a priority of his off the court, despite leaving Cal after one season. He’s heard the criticism but brushes it off.
“It makes me laugh a little bit, to some extent,” he said. “For me, I’m going to keep being who I am and just respond with silence and just be myself. I can’t help but smile when people say things like that.
“Like, guys who are into school and love education are awful people, right? I can’t help but smile when people when say things like that. I am a basketball player and I love to play basketball. But I also love education, I love reading, I love literacy. I’m going to let people know that as well.”
Brown mentioned MIT and Harvard in his opening press conference. Will he continue his degree, possibly in Boston?
“It’s something to think about, for sure,” Brown said. “I’ve already looked and done some research about it. Right now, I’m focusing on the season, focusing on the Summer League and my craft and things like that. But it’s definitely something to think about and I can’t wait to start exploring my options.”