Following a 119-110 victory against the Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics wing Jaylen Brown delivered a bold statement to NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin that is sure to grab the attention of future opponents.
“I feel like I’m one of the better defenders in the league, if not the better defender in the league, so I feel like it’s a challenge that should be bestowed on me,” Brown expressed about guarding Mavs star Luka Doncic in Monday night’s triumph.
While Doncic managed to score 33 points, matching his season average, the 6-foot-7 Slovenian did so at a less efficient rate. Doncic, who typically shoots 48.5 percent from the field and 37.6 percent from deep, was held by Brown to 40 percent and 25 percent, respectively.
“Whatever night, my body is in a different shape, I’m guarding the best players night to night,” Brown added, emphasizing his defensive versatility.
Averaging just over a steal per game, Brown has limited opponents to 41.4 percent shooting from the field and 32.8 percent from beyond the arc when serving as the primary defender. The two-time All-Star has consistently forced opposing teams into taking challenging shots, as exemplified in their Jan. 7 matchup against the Indiana Pacers, where Brown, as the primary defender, held the team to just two points on 1-of-9 shooting.
League-wide, Brown ranks second among qualified NBA defenders in opponent field goal percentage below expected output, trailing only Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid.
Brown’s defensive contributions have played a pivotal role in the Celtics’ success, tying them for third in defensive rating by limiting opponents to an average of 110.6 points per game. Boston has showcased disciplined defense, allowing the fewest free throws per game in the NBA at 14.5.
During the offseason, Brown, who signed the highest-paying contract in NBA history, set out to elevate his defensive skills. He has embraced that challenge, making defense a focal point in every game.
“To challenge myself more throughout the year is important because in the playoffs I take on certain roles and responsibilities, no problem,” Brown stated before the season. “But even challenging yourself throughout the year to push yourself in that regard, because that’s the side of the ball that we don’t appreciate as much as a part of the game, that we don’t appreciate as much. We emphasize and glorify the offensive side, but the defense can really affect winning. So really taking that serious and really locking in, really pushing the teammates around you, trying to be the best you can be.”
Having secured victories on both nights of their recent back-to-back, the Celtics aim to cap off their road trip with a win against the Miami Heat on Thursday before returning home to face the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.