Zach Lowe: Brown for Kawhi NOT a “no-brainer”

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 4: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics dunks during the second half of the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden on December 4, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeat the Bucks 111-100. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Say what you want about mainstream media basketball pundits, but Zach Lowe is almost unanimously respected. Perhaps this is why his hesitation concerning a Jaylen Brown-for-Kawhi Leonard swap is intriguing, to say the least.

Lowe outlined his argument like so:

1. There is no guarantee Kawhi resigns. It would be a lot to give up Brown and his team-friendly contract for a single year of The Claw, especially as his Kawhi’s camp floats around his 2019 intentions.

2. It is not unreasonable to believe that Brown could develop into a Kawhi-esque talent.

3. Even if Kawhi resigns, Boston’s future as a contender shrinks by a few years.

Alright, Mr. Lowe, I’m listening. 

Is Jaylen Brown on the same trajectory as Kawhi Leonard? Can Brown accumulate the following:

Finals MVP

2x All-NBA First Team


3x All-Defensive First Team

2016 2nd place MVP finish, 2017 3rd place MVP finish

…Probably not. But, Brown and Kawhi did have similar second seasons. Zach Lowe did a deep dive that mentioned several ways in which the two studs are alike. Ready for some Zach Lowe quotes?

“Brown already profiles as an elite multi-positional wing defender.”

“Both proved almost immediately they could bully smaller guards in the post. Both obliterated expectations as spot-up shooters by the end of their second seasons; Brown is ahead of where Leonard was.”

“More than two-thirds of Leonard’s 3-point attempts in his second season came from the corners; he hit 43 percent of those, but just 13-of-53 non-corner 3s. Brown has hit almost exactly 43 from the corners for his career, but he’s much more accomplished on above-the-break 3s than young Kawhi; Brown hit a very solid 69-of-184 (37.5 percent) on those longer 3s last season. He hit them over decent contests, and out of the pick-and-roll.”

Ready for some Coach Spo ‘snipping tool’ edits?

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The similarities between Brown and Kawhi are there, yet it would be irrational to expect Brown to transform into one of the top-5 (when healthy) players in the league. As a biased Cs fan, even I know this won’t happen. Kawhi went from tertiary option to primary scorer as his aging cohorts progressed to the back 9 of their respective careers. On a team with Hayward, Uncle Drew and Tatum, Brown simply won’t get the offensive usage rate that Kawhi does/did.

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Did you see the part where I obnoxiously wrote how impressive Kawhi’s USG rate is? How about AST %? This are indicators that the offense is consistently running through Kawhi, something that simply won’t happen as often for Brown in Boston.

To Lowe’s credit, he ended his article by asserting that in all likelihood, Brown will not become the next Kawhi. He could become 90% of what Kawhi is but, that leaves 10% unaccounted for. What does that mean? Ultimately, should Boston trade for Kawhi? Fortunately for us hoopheads, Lowe answered that question:

“But that last 10 percent is why you probably do it. It is the 10 percent that separates the very best players. It wins championships. Every one of those 10 percentage points is exponentially harder to find than the one below it.”

Read the article. Simply put, it’s both provocative and intelligent. But the question remains:

If the Celtics are not guaranteed more than one year out of Kawhi Leonard, is it worth giving up Jaylen Brown?

Let us know! @Mattesposito_ @hoopsprovider