Welcome to Halftime’s preview of the 2016 NBA Draft, where our writers will be analyzing the players and teams that will headline this summer’s selection process.
Strengths: Built like a truck before he even arrived in Berkeley, Jaylen Brown already has an NBA-ready body and athleticism to boot. Brown has impressive measurables at 6’7” and 223 pounds, and has the kind of thunder in the open court that makes NBA scouts salivate. Related to his size will be his relative ease in finding a position at the next level, as Brown has the prototypical guard-forward body, with the ability to alternate between the shooting guard and small forward position and even the possibility to spend some time at power forward. Those physical tools that enable Brown in the offensive end can also catalyze him to becoming a lockdown perimeter defender, as he has the size and quickness to match-up with NBA wings.
Weaknesses: The name of the game is putting the ball in the basket, and for as much hype that Brown received coming out of high school, he struggled to efficiently score, especially in a half-court setting, as a Golden Bear. Shooting percentages of 29% from three and 65% at the line are major concerns for Brown moving forward, as he’ll be playing in a league that has increasingly diminished the value of players who struggle shooting the ball, even if they possess otherworldly physical attributes. Brown will also need to tighten his handle, as he was often too careless with the ball on drives to the rim, leading to owning one of the highest turnover rates of any prospect in the draft. Brown’s success on the next level will be entirely predicated on his level of determination and focus to improve his shot mechanics, shot selection, and shot creating abilities. All the physical tools are there, but Brown remains largely an unfinished product.
Best Landing Spot: Brown will succeed in an environment where he isn’t asked to start from day one and can better hone his shooting and offensive repertoire. An upside for Brown is that his game is better-suited for the NBA’s uptempo style, and his ability to draw fouls will be highly valued. Brown’s amount of playing time in his first year hinges on his improvements in his shooting, and if he shows the intensity on defense that will endear him to his coach.
Probable Landing Spot: Brown has been projected to land at anywhere from the fourth to the eighth overall pick, as questions linger on whether to draft on upside, which favors Brown, or with more of a bias towards finished products, which favors a player like Oklahoma star Buddy Hield. I think Brown will go seventh to Denver, where he’ll be aided in his development by veterans at his position, such as Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler.
NBA Comparison: Brown has the potential to morph into a James Harden-type player: a relentless offensive threat who can get to the rim at will and draw contact, with even more athleticism than Harden. However, Brown currently has nowhere near the handle required to command the attention from NBA defenses, so he’d likely fall between a Stanley Johnson and Iman Shumpert, who are both terrific athletes but struggle with their shot a decent amount. Heat rookie Justise Winslow is another player in the same class of athlete that Brown is, but also struggles with his perimeter shot.