Number 2: Jaylen Brown
The Boston Celtics find themselves in an unusual position. They are now tied with another franchise for the most championships in NBA history. The great city of Boston surely won’t stand for being tied for the best and will demand that the Celtics reclaim their place, alone, atop Mt. NBA Championship.
James Harden would give the Celtics their best team since the days of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce. A backcourt of Harden and Kemba Walker setting up Jayson Tatum would form one of the NBA’s deadliest big threes.
However, the Rockets would likely want Jayson Tatum back, something the Celtics would never do, but there is another young franchise cornerstone that should interest the Rockets. Jaylen Brown is the quintessential two-way player and is on a very team-friendly contract.
Last season Brown posted career highs in points, rebounds, and assists per game all while posting a career-best field-goal percentage. In an offense where he is not the third option, he should be able to easily eclipse the 20.3 points he averaged last season.
While the offensive growth that Brown has shown has been impressive, his bread and butter is his on-ball defense. The Rockets didn’t feature a two-way player as capable as Brown and it cost them dearly last season.
Brown is getting close to being a fully formed player so his upside is not as great as the players mentioned earlier but he has one advantage over them, his contract. Brown is owed $107 million over the next four seasons that sees him make an average of $26.75 million a season.
This isn’t chump-change but his contract covers his age 24 through age 27 seasons which tend to be a player’s most productive years. Teams covet young cost-controlled players because they’re easy to build around and are incredibly valuable trade chips.
Jaylen Brown represents a very good and very safe return for James Harden. Fans and the media are far too enamored with prospects because of the high upside they can dream on but NBA teams are much more level-headed.
Brown is like investing in the S&P 500, you probably won’t double your money anytime soon but your chances of losing everything are even lower. A prospect like Michael Porter Jr. is a lottery ticket, he could land you a fabulous prize but there’s a larger chance that you end up with nothing. Remember, there’s a reason financial advisors use the S&P 500 and don’t buy lottery tickets.
Next: Number 1