Celtics forward Jaylen Brown was selected as an All-Star for the first time last season, and although he missed 14 games this season because of a hamstring injury, he went into Tuesday’s game against Sacramento still averaging 23.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3 assists per contest.
But his portfolio certainly hasn’t done much to energize the fans’ support. In the latest All-Star starter returns released by the NBA, Brown had 330,409 votes, 10th most among Eastern Conference guards. Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan, meanwhile, was first with 4,121,034. Brown was behind players such as Nets guard Kyrie Irving, who has played in just seven games this season, and Knicks guard Derrick Rose, who is averaging 12 points per game.
“I think I’ve improved, I’ve gotten better,” said Brown before going for 30 points and 10 rebounds in the Celtics’ 128-75 win. “All-Star, to be honest, is more about political, and things like that. Obviously it would be a great honor to be an All-Star but it’s not in my control, so why even worry about it? I think a lot of guys are having great years, so I’m focused on improving day-to-day.
“I didn’t pick up a basketball to be an All-Star. I picked up a basketball to win and to utilize my platform and to make change. If the question is: ‘Am I losing sleep, or something that I’m thinking about?’ It’s not.”
The fans account for half of the total vote for All-Star starters, with media members and players deciding one-quarter apiece. And Brown was never going to be considered for one of those spots anyway. But it is slightly surprising that he has received the 18th-most votes among Eastern Conference players.
The Celtics’ Jayson Tatum ranked fourth among frontcourt players, with 1,580,022 votes. There is a chance he could ultimately be named a starter since Nets star Kevin Durant is sidelined. The starters will be announced Thursday night, and the reserves, which are decided by the coaches, will be unveiled Feb. 3.
“Obviously, it’s a huge honor and players aspire for that,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “It should be a yearly thing with our guys. Part of it is the winning that the record plays into it. But also individual accolades. And so as much as you try to keep it about team, players have motivation for individual things and that’s part of it. But that’s also pushing themselves to be great and so we would like them to strive for All-Star every year, All-NBA every year. That’s a standard they should set for themselves. But we’re also pushing them and it’s what’s needed on our end as well.
Different type of success
Udoka credits each stop in his winding playing career with helping him develop as a coach in some way. He played in 69 games for the Kings during the 2009-10 season. Sacramento went just 25-57.
“We actually didn’t win a ton but kind of stepped into more of a mentor role,” Udoka said. “I was one of the younger guys in San Antonio, and I went there and was one of the older guys. Me, [Andres] Nocioni, Beno Udrih, so a rough year overall, as far as the winning goes, but took some things and learned from every experience.”
Glass half full
The Celtics entered Tuesday night’s game with a 24-24 record. Brown, for one, believes the team has made some strides in recent weeks.
“I think that we have improved in a lot of areas offensively, as a team, as a coaching staff, as players,” he said. “I think we’ve gotten a little bit more comfortable. We’ve just got to keep that sense of urgency and keep building on top of it.”