Here are some facts about Celtics guard Jaylen Brown. He is a two-time All-Star, and a 2023 All-NBA selection. He just finished one of the two best seasons of his career by both traditional and advanced metrics. He also struggled mightily in this year’s postseason and is the subject of occasional criticism for poor ballhandling and suspect defense.
You could use these ideas to set up a nuanced discussion about the value of Brown, who is eligible for a supermax contract. Or you could follow the blueprint set by Chris “Mad Dog” Russo on First Take on Wednesday morning.
Russo, asked to name 20 players better than Brown during a segment on the ESPN debate show, gave the following list: “Durant. Curry. Embiid. Tatum. Giannis. Booker. Lillard. Jokić. Dončić. Butler. The OKC kid, what's his name? (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander). Murray. Donovan Mitchell. Kawhi. George ... Morant. LeBron. AD. Anthony Edwards. And one of my all-time favorites, Kyrie."
Longtime NBA guard JJ Redick began to laugh even before Russo stopped talking, but he allowed Stephen A. Smith to call the list “suspect” before laying in to Russo himself.
“Mad Dog, I just wanna say one thing. This entire conversation started because I said (Brown) was a top 20-25 player, which, he’s not ninth. He’s in the 20-25 range. You named 20 really good players, but you are the absolute worst.”
Redick lambasted Russo for ranking George, Irving and Leonard ahead of Brown despite complaining frequently about their lack of availability on the court.
“I’m not debating whether those guys are ‘more talented’ than Jaylen Brown,” Redick said. “But Jaylen Brown plays. Jaylen Brown’s available. You can’t have it both ways.”