Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart demonstrating new-found control

It is obvious that both Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart worked on their games this summer. Jaylen is suddenly not looked upon as just a dunk artist. That is still part of his game, but he now maintains control of the ball and his body on his way to the hoop, and he finishes stronger. He measures the defense and makes his moves accordingly, much the same way we saw Paul Pierce do it.


Despite a boost in minutes over last season, Brown is averaging slightly fewer turnovers. And even his imperfect free throw shooting is a season-high 77% for 2019-20. He has developed a stutter-step and better use of his left hand. He controls the ball, his body - and often the game.


Similar to Jaylen, Smart's minutes have seen an uptick (30.8 MPG, up from 27.5 last season), but his turnovers are down - from 1.5 TOPG last season to 0.9 this year. For players logging more than 24 minutes/game, he leads the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio. He only turns the ball over once for every 5.25 assists he hands out. That is control.

Marcus' field goal percentage thus far this season stands at 40% - not good, but acceptable - for him. He no longer chucks up a lot of disparate 3-pointers, and his accuracy from beyond the arc is a decent 37%. On the defensive side, he is far from reckless. His fouls per game have seen only a slight uptick from last season, going from 2.5 fouls per game to 2.6 - which can be accounted for by his increased minutes.

The control we see in Brown and Smart shows maturity and seasoning. That comes in handy in the post-season. There is a lesson here for fans that did not envision Marcus as an effective point guard or Jaylen as a rising star. The Celtics are atop the NBA with an 8-1 record for a number of reasons, the improved control of Brown and Smart being one of them.

Follow Tom at @CelticsSentinel, @CausewayStreet and Facebook

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