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Player Focus: Brandon Boston Jr

Bad Men, Bad Takes – Season 1

It’s Thursday, September 30th, 2021.

The Los Angeles Clippers are approaching the end of their Training Camp at San Diego University, and are running a full scrimmage.

Brandon Boston Jr, a rookie and second-round pick in the recent NBA Draft, brings the ball up the court deliberately, motioning to his teammates to initiate the offensive play-call. He crosses the half-court line, slowing down to a stand-still as he picks up his dribble by the logo, and fires up a shot with 17 seconds left on the shot clock.

His teammates stare at him, bewildered that a rookie would have the audacity to take such an ill-advised shot, particularly that early in the shot-clock. Coach Ty Lue stops the game, motioning Boston over to the sideline.

“That’s a bad shot, rook”, Lue assertively tells him.

“I know Coach, my bad”, Boston replies.

“No, no, rook, that is a horrible, horrible shot”, Lue says, making sure the message gets through to his trigger-happy guard.

“I know Coach, that’s a bad decision, that’s on me”, Boston admits.

He begins running back out to the baseline to start playing defence. Before he sets up, however, the rookie turns back to Ty Lue.

“It was a good bucket though right?”, he exclaims, a childish grin across his face.

Lue just shakes his head, smiling to himself, as the scrimmage continues.

As told by Clippers TV commentator Brian Siemen, this is a story that may well come to be known as the origins of Brandon Boston Jr. The rangy wing with a high ceiling who slipped all the way to the 51st pick after being an elite High School recruit just a season earlier.

Brandon Boston Jr rises up during the Clippers win over the Celtics. Credit:

Fast forward just a couple of months to December 9th, and Brandon Boston Jr was making a name for himself in the NBA against one of the most prestigious franchises in the sport which, ironically, shares his name. The Boston Celtics.

Having struggled to get regular minutes in the opening six or so weeks of the season, Boston is given an opportunity to come off the bench and take the minutes of sharp-shooter Luke Kennard. Kennard is in the starting line-up to fill the guard slot left absent by Paul George, who is nursing an elbow injury. Fans in Los Angeles don’t know it yet, but they are about to witness Boston’s break out game.

By half-time, the rookie had a then game-high 18 points in just 14 minutes, hitting five three-pointers including a turnaround buzzer beater from six-feet behind the line to send the Clippers into the break with a double-digit lead. Come the final buzzer, Boston leads LA in scoring with 27 points, hitting on 62% of his deep shots and 70% of his shots from the field in total. He also nailed all four of his attempts from the charity stripe.

Boston Jr settles before attempting a free-throw against the Celtics. Credit: NBC Sports

While still a relative unknown to causal fans, Boston revealed he had been on the Celtics radar prior to the game. The rookie told reporters he heard the opposition bench call him “Mr. 46” as he attempted a deep shot from the corner in the first half – a reference to his 46 point outing earlier in the season with Los Angeles’ G-League affiliate, the Agua Caliente Clippers. Within NBA circles, it appears Brandon Boston Jr is known already for his raw scoring ability, so how were the Clippers able grab him with the 51st pick?

Well, Los Angeles has made a habit of shrewd draft decisions in recent years. They traded for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander during the 2018 draft, and while he is no longer with the team after being traded to Oklahoma City for Paul George, he is excelling and is a border-line All-Star.

They followed up a season later by selecting Terance Mann with the 48th pick. Mann has since developed into a key rotation piece and the man (no pun intended) who helped them eliminate the Jazz en route to their first Conference Finals appearance last season.

Boston may be the deepest and most lop-sided draft day acquisition of them all, however, with the Clippers only having to give up cash considerations to acquire his rights from the New Orleans Pelicans. There is no doubt that Boston slipped down draft boards due to an inconsistent one-and-done season at Kentucky under John Calipari, but the talent has always been there for those who have followed the now 20 year-old.

Brandon Boston Jr brought plenty of energy during his time at Kentucky, but struggled to shoot the ball. Credit: ClipsNation

Boston was a five-star recruit out of high school, having played his finals season with the likes of Bronny James and Zaire Wade at Sierra Canyon in California. He was ranked the tenth best recruit in his class prior to his Senior High School season and the second best shooting guard according to some recruiters, allowing him to have his choice of colleges.

He narrowed his choices down to Kentucky, Duke, Auburn and Florida, before eventually settling on the Wildcats, saying he believed the program ‘fitted him best’. While going to Kentucky seems like almost receiving a guarantee to get drafted to an NBA roster, Boston almost missed out due to an inconsistent season.

The 6-foot, 7-inch wing averaged 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 steals per game at Kentucky, but struggled to shoot the ball effectively. He connected on just 30% of his deep shots, and struggled from the field generally, converting on only 38.4% of his two-point field goals.

To make matters worse, many of the things that made him a stand-out recruit following his season at Sierra Canyon appeared to abandon him. College systems challenged him to take the ball to the hoop and finish strong – an area he struggled to improve on as the season went on. The next level of competition also highlighted some of the other weaknesses in his game, namely his one-on-one defence and lack of an NBA-ready body.

Boston’s stock plummeted as he dropped from as high as second in some mock-drafts in November, to being a consensus second-round pick by the time the draft rolled around. Despite this, the Clippers not only traded for him, but offered him a guaranteed two-year deal – even before other roster spots had been decided on.

Brandon Boston (4) celebrates with Paul George (13) following a Clippers win earlier in the season. Credit: Los Angeles Sentinel

The Clippers saw the up-side of Boston first hand during training camp. He’s a rangy, 6-foot 7-inch wing with great shooting ability, above-average ball-handling for his size and he anticipates well while off-ball on the defensive end.

He still has improvements to make with regards to his body so he can guard stronger wings, as well as his one-on-one defensive positioning. What works in Boston’s favour though is his ability to be a pest off-the ball and the energy he brings to crashing the glass. This means Ty Lue can keep him on the floor knowing the pros outweigh the cons, which can’t be said for every one of the 50 players drafted before him.

It was only fitting that Brandon Boston had his break out game against his name-sake in the Boston Celtics. Historically, the Celtics are the more fancied team, having won the most Championships in the NBA, while the Clippers have been an after-thought, often over-looked by many, and are now looking to prove the doubters wrong.

Boston’s career thus far is comparable. Overlooked coming out of college as teams chose to draft more fancied prospects, Boston now has a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. Coach Ty Lue’s advice prior to yesterday’s game to the 20 year-old was the same as it has been all season: ‘Keep going. Make everyone pay”.

As far as Boston is concerned, the Celtics have now paid.

One down, 29 to go.

Brandon Boston Jr makes the Celtics pay on the break by throwing down two of his 27 points. Credit: CelticsBlog

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