Sunday, May 1, 2016

In the Spotlight: Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown 
6’7, 225 lbs 
Class: Freshman 
Position: Small Forward 
College: California 
Wingspan: 7’1 
Reach: 8’9 
Age: 19.4 (Born: October 24th, 1996) 


Strengths:

  • Good size, strength and frame - 6’7, 225 lbs - for NBA 3 
  • Incredibly athletic, good acceleration, explosiveness, quick first step 
  • Good individual offensive skills in one-on-one; can take off the bounce and get to the basket, above average pull up game off the bounce, does a nice job changing directions, will be even more dangerous when defenses can’t give as much room and are forced to close out quicker… and while he doesn’t possess a back to the basket game at this point, he has the components to develop one 
  • NBA ready. With no big holes in his game and his offensive arsenal and defensive versatility, he should be able to make a smooth transition to the next level 
  • When on the attack, Brown can be dominant and tough to matchup against 
  • Plays well in transition… can fill the wing and finish at the rim or lead the break … shows good body control when finishing on break 
  • Seems to be a good kid, shows smarts on and off court… articulate… well spoken. Picks opposing guys up on the court 
  • Defensively, he’s got the tools. Whether it’s guarding quicker, more explosive 2’s, or matching up with 3’s that are able to play with their back to the basket, Brown can take on the assignment 
      • Quick feet, good length, strong frame, stout base, seems to have an understanding of when to help and recover, good instincts, gets in lanes to create turnovers 


Weaknesses:

  • Must develop more consistency from the outside and develop quicker release… more of a streak shooter (if that) at this stage 
          2016 Shooting Percentages:
               FG : 43% 
               FT: 65% 
               3 Point: 29%
  • Can improve timing of when to pick his spots, to take higher percentage shots 
  • Does he have the killer instinct? Never shows much emotion. Lacks consistency showing up during stretches of games… and typically on the biggest stage. Often times, during big moments, he’s left with a stoic look on his face, and fails to rise with the pressure 
  • Needs to be more confident and at times make quicker decisions, so his offense isn’t entirely on him to create… when a pass comes off penetration, be ready to shoot, not first get settled and size up the defense. 
  • Needs to continue to do damage within the flow of the offense, not just rely on his 1-on-1 skills when the offense breaks down 


Overall:

Is there a prospect in this years draft class, with as much natural ability as Jaylen Brown? Maybe 1 or 2, but that’s it.

At first glance, he meets the eye test. Good size, length, strength for a 3. Add his incredible athleticism and individual offensive skills, with his elite ability to finish in transition and it’s hard not to fall in love with Brown. Finally, couple all of his physical gifts, and natural offensive talents, with his defensive potential and Brown has skills that can translate at the next level.

So why the hesitancy around Brown as a top prospect?

Unfortunately, there are times he seems to be out on the court, running through sets without the urgency of the moment. During these stretches, he doesn’t even look, or demand the ball.

A season ago, as a Senior in HS on the biggest stage, playing at the Dick’s High School Nationals (playoffs), with Brown’s Wheeler team matched up against a clearly more talented and deeper Huntington Prep team featuring all Division 1 prospects - Thomas Bryant, Miles Bridges, Curtis Jones, etc. I was expecting Brown to be overly aggressive, to try and over compensate for the talent differential between teams and really try to put his team on this back.

Instead, in a tight game in the 2nd half, it almost appeared like Brown understood how difficult a task it would be to carry his Wheeler team to victory…so he deferred to his teammates, at an alarming rate. There was never a moment he turned up the aggressiveness, and his team ultimately lost.

I bring this up, because there were numerous big games down the stretch, this past season at Cal, most noticeably the first round loss to Hawaii, in which Brown seemed to play his worst…or be a non-factor. For example:

March 18th – NCAA Tournament Loss to Hawaii:
   - Brown: FG: 1-6, FTA: 2, Pts: 4, Reb: 2, Ast: 0, TO: 7 in 17 minutes (FO)

March 11th – Pac-12 Tournament Loss to Utah
  - Brown: FG: 3-17, FTA: 8, Pts: 12, Reb: 5, Ast: 5, TO: 5

March 10th – Pac-12 Tournament Win against Oregon State
   - Brown: FG: 1-6, FTA: 7, Pts: 8, Reb: 2, Ast: 3, TO: 6

March 3rd – Big Game down the stretch against Arizona
  - Brown: FG: 2-9, FTA: 0, Pts: 5, Reb: 1, Ast: 1, TO: 2


There are certainly a number of things you can point to for his disappointing performances down the stretch – Cal point guard went down, not enough floor spacing on the perimeter to create lanes for Brown to penetrate, core of Brown and Rabb are freshman etc… And sure, they could’ve played a roll, but this repetitive flaw raises real concern.

And while there’s no debating he must have felt incredible frustration with his performances, he never really showed it on the court – which both points to a maturity, but I would’ve preferred to see some emotion, or some anger at what transpired.

Now anytime, we are talking about a guy with Brown’s talent level, you have to give serious consideration to acquiring him. And with only drafting the best player available in mind, if Brown were to fall to the tail end of the lottery, picks #10-13, he becomes a great value selection. More than likely Brown will be selected, picks #5-10.


*Cut from the mold of a Stanley Johnson or Joe Johnson, Brown is more naturally gifted at this point than either were at the end of their freshman seasons. But Brown is well behind Stanley in his competitiveness, or Joe’s shooting ability at that same stage.

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