WALTHAM, Mass. -- Say this about Jaylen Brown: He sure knows how to make a first impression.
Brown, the No. 3 pick in last week's NBA draft, joined Guerschon Yabusele (16), Ante Zizic (23), Ben Bentil (51) and Abdel Nader (58) on stage at Boston's practice facility Friday as the Celtics formally welcomed six newcomers (45th pick Demetrius Jackson was unable to attend). Operating with the same intensity that's highlighted in his college scouting report, Brown immediately began winning over a fan base that had been clamoring for more established talent.
"First off, I want to say my excitement level, between 1 and 10, I’m about a 12 now," said Brown. "I’m happy to be here and I’m gonna go to war for this city. I’m going to play with a lot of passion and leave it all on the floor every night."
Brown is trying to make Celtics fans forget about his underwhelming freshman season at California and the computer models that suggested he'll struggle to make an immediate impact at the NBA level. Just 19 years old, he calmly answered questions Friday and offered hints as to why the Celtics selected him.
Asked about having something to prove as the No. 3 pick, Brown said, "I always have a point to prove where I have a chip on my shoulder at all times. Whether I was the 1 pick in the draft [or] 2, it’s always something to prove. It’s not about the position in the draft, I want to be a top-5 player in the league one day. I’ve said that before and I stick to it."
Perpetual chip on the shoulder? A desire to be great? That sounds an awful lot like the playbook of Celtics All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas.
When the conversation swung to his disappointing season at Cal, Brown replied, "I put a lot of blame on myself because, being highly recruited out of high school, I felt obligated to do much better than I did. We came up short. But it's all about getting better and adding fuel to the flame. So now I'm here in Boston. Now I'm ready to rip somebody's head off."
Celtics fans who were on the fence about Brown, maybe only because they hoped Boston would swing a draft-night trade for more known talent, seemed to come around listening to Brown's quotes.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Brown made an immediate impression on Boston's decision-makers as well.
"I think Jaylen’s been a guy from day one that our front office has been really high on," said Stevens. "And as [Boston's coaching staff started] to watch him up close and you start to catch up, you can see why. Obviously, in this league, right now, one of the deciding factors in being able to compete at a high level is to be able to do multiple things with one person. So very few guys can move like Jaylen can move at his size and at his length. So the defensive versatility is a big piece of that, that should be transferrable right away.
"The other thing you see as you learn more about Jaylen, as you watch him more, is obviously the explosion, the work ethic. He came in and did a 3-on-3 workout, he also came in and did a 1-on-0 workout and, in both those workouts, his tempo was really good, which usually is a good indicator that he’s gonna make progress with his work, because he understands how to work the right way. He really performed well at each of those workouts. There were a lot of good players in those spots to choose from and all those guys will have a chance to have great careers. We thought Jaylen’s versatility and Jaylen’s drive to improve really made a great statement to us."
When asked if being the No. 3 pick would add any pressure to his first NBA season, Brown said he'd use it only as fuel.
"I'm overly confident. I believe in myself 100 percent," he said. "I believe in my game and I believe in my work ethic. I don't believe anybody works as hard as me, especially not in this draft class. I'm going to go out and show what I can do. Rome wasn't built in a day. It'll take time. [But] you'll see."