Usually around playoff time in the NBA we hear teams clamoring for a "veteran presence" to get them over the top.
"...If only we had this one guy, he won't even play a lot of minutes, but he's a good, well liked, experienced locker room guy that might prove to be the missing piece we so desperately need."
The presence of a veteran is becoming indispensable in the NBA now. Use the Minnesota Timberwolves as an example.
Despite news that he's likely on his way out of Minnesota by way of a buyout, and despite the fact that he only played 38 games last season largely due to persistent injuries, it's clear that Kevin Garnett's leadership greatly benefitted the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine.
Towns is drawing comparisons to KG and becoming an unstoppable force in the paint. LaVine is a Slam Dunk contest champion and Rising All-Star Challenge MVP.
Take a look across most locker rooms in the NBA and you'll find their own version of KG.
Former Celtic Paul Pierce in Los Angeles. David West in Golden State. Jason Terry in Milwaukee.
These players can prove to be pivotal influences, especially for NBA rookies and showing them leadership skills, giving advice on the in's and out's of basketball and life in the league and generally just being elder statesmen that everyone in the locker room respects.
For Boston Celtics first-round draft pick, Jaylen Brown, every little bit of help he can receive on his journey as a rookie will help. People think he can be great, considering his skill set and relentless drive. His coach, Brad Stevens, believes in him:
Stevens on Jaylen Brown: "He’s a young guy in a man’s league. He's gotta get a lot better. Time will tell, but he certainly has high upside"— Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 21, 2016
Brown is smart, he works out with NBA All-Stars - he's playing the part of someone who wants to be great. Well, thankfully for him, he's also surrounded by accomplished veterans who will push him to live up to his potential:
#Celtics coach Brad Stevens said no better education for rookie Jaylen Brown than to be pushed by likes of Jae Crowder each day.— Scott Souza (@Scott_Souza) September 21, 2016
Having players by his side such as Avery Bradley, who developed under the guidance of aforementioned future Hall-of-Famer Kevin Garnett, and Jae Crowder, who isn't necessarily a veteran but can be seen as the life and soul of this defensive-minded Celtics squad, will give Brown the perfect atmosphere to develop into the star many believe he can be.
In a recent interview with Bill Simmons on The Ringer, Coach Stevens said of Jaylen (via Jay King of Mass Live):
"I think Jaylen's in a good situation to learn and grow because he's coming into a team that has some perimeter players who are very established that will make him very uncomfortable in practice every single day,"
And now with four-time All-Star Al Horford in tow, Brown has everything he could possibly ask for: A defensive minded team that suits his play style, an eager coach who happens to be one of the best in the NBA and a locker room full of established veterans.
It also helps that fellow Celtics Al Horford and Amir Johnson were awarded Best Teammate of the Year, as voted by NBA players:
Check out the Eastern Conference #PlayersVoice Award winners for Best Teammate pic.twitter.com/zOywj3ycXq— NBPA (@TheNBPA) August 4, 2016
Jaylen Brown has a long way to go. He has inconsistencies with his mid-range shooting, issues finishing at the rim and he obviously has to learn to defend at an NBA level.
But if one thing is for sure, it's that Brown has all the tools around him to succeed. Kevin Garnett isn't walking through that door (at least we don't think so, but anything is possible after a buyout), but Brown can count on a whole heap of All-Stars and solid teammates to show him how to be great in the NBA.
Photo credit: Steve Freeman/Getty Images
Follow Luis on Twitter @luisdgnyc Luis Gonzalez 9/23/2016 09:48:00 AM Tweet Edit