BOSTON (CBS) – When Danny Ainge elected to draft Jaylen Brown with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the team pointed to the swingman’s physique as one of the main factors in the selection.
“Danny and his staff feel that he’s got significant upside,” co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said on draft night. “He’s already an accomplished player at a young age. We feel that he’s got the physique and the competitive drive, the motor, the skills, and really important the character and the intelligence.”
The Celtics’ braintrust does not seem to be the only ones in awe of Brown’s physical explosiveness at age 19.
In fact, 38 percent of this year’s draft class pegged Brown as the most athletic rookie in this year’s NBA.com rookie survey the overwhelming top choice out of this year’s 60 draft picks. Clippers power forward Brice Johnson finished a distant second in the voting with a mere 16.1 percent of the tally.
Boston fans already got a sneak peek at what the 6-foot-7 forward is capable of during NBA Summer League. Brown put together an impressive collection of highlights over those two weeks, while also showing his aggressive in attacking the rim by averaging over 10 free throws per game.
The optimism about the former Cal standout did not just end with his athleticism though. The versatile wing earned multiple votes in several categories, including rookie that is expected to have the best career, biggest steal of the draft and best defender.
Brown was shut out of the rookie of the year voting prediction, which comes as no surprise as he’ll be stuck playing behind Jae Crowder for his rookie season, limiting his opportunities. Wolves point guard Kris Dunn, the No. 5 overall pick got the nod from his classmates as the Rookie of the Year favorite, a player that was widely rumored to be going to Boston at No. 3 throughout the process.
With the age difference between the two players (three years), it will be years before it’s clear whether Ainge may the right choice at No. 3 with Brown over Dunn. Still, the fact he’s so widely respected among his peers has to be considered a good sign for the youngster as heads into his first training camp as a pro next month.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.