On the Bill Simmons podcast this past week, Jimmy Butler pointed out his favorite NBA prospect in this year's draft.
"I like Jaylen Brown. He's tough. He's strong. I played against him one-on-one in summer. Tell you the truth, he literally reminds me of myself. When I was going up against him...that's crazy, he can move his feet, he's athletic."
You can click here to read and watch the DraftExpress scouting report, but here's a quick look at some of Brown's strengths and weaknesses that remind Butler of himself.
The positives of Brown are apparent to most people who understand the professional game. His upside is off the charts, probably one of the top five of all the talents in this draft. He has all the measureless to be an elite wing at the next level. At 6'7" he's at the right height to be a guard-forward. With the right conditioning, he will be difficult for twos to guard and quick enough to blow past threes.
What every NBA scout drools over is his defense. His athleticism is elite enough for him to change between guarding twos and threes with his seven foot wingspan. If he fully develops into his body, he has all the necessary strength to guard all the top wings at the next level. That alone will keep him in an NBA rotation for years to come. Once he learns how to move his body properly, engage rotationally, and playing on a string, he could drastically improve a team's overall defensive capabilities.
The weaknesses are what will determine whether he will become the next NBA All-Star or just a regular rotation player. Much like Butler coming out of college, the defensive ability is all there and his offensive game is very raw. Aside from being a spectacular transition player, there is much development to be done.
His jumper is just not there. His three point shot was one of the worst in college basketball last season. Brown would often force shots into a crowd last season. Where he really struggled was with his tunnel vision--much like his counterpart Tyrone Wallace, Brown seemed to zone in on the basket when he decided to score, and struggled to pass the ball once he began his slashing motion.
Now, to be fair, his offensive inefficiency was somewhat dictated by personnel. Cal did not have the optimal spacing on the floor out there with both Wallace and Brown sharing usage and possessions as the two primary ball-handlers. Neither of those two are great shooters, and good defenses learned to back off and play off. Cal's best lineups usually featured Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews spacing the floor, but that often meant sacrificing rim protection, playing small and giving up defensive stops. So for most of Brown's games, he was playing with an offense not tailor-made to fit his skills. More from Draft Express:
Asked to fill a substantial role in Cal's space-starved offense, Brown did most of his damage playing off the ball spotting up or filling lanes in transition, but was also granted significant opportunities to create for himself off the bounce in the half court. Given considerable freedom, the freshman scored just .853 points per possession over 17.2 possessions per game to rank 149th in scoring efficiency among the 173 players using over 17 opportunities per game according to Synergy Sports Technology.
Ironically, Brown's best stretch at Cal came when Wallace got injured and he was tasked with being the primary ball-handler. His offensive efficiency went up, his ability to cut to the basket became easier with more spacing, and his decision making seemed to improve. But Brown had a horrible finish to his season, and the Bears simply could not survive his lack of production.
Still, Brown is far from a lost clock. Cal was a defensive first squad in 2016, but they did start learning to produce at a semi elite offensive pace near the end of the year when Brown was clicking. His presence on the floor with talented offensive players will open up opportunities for him to attack the basket and earn free throw trips (although that is another thing Brown will have to work on as well). From DX:
As much as Brown struggled, he had plenty of positive moments offensively as well. He scored the ball well inside throughout the middle portion of the season and found some amount of consistency with his jump shot in the later part of Cal's Pac-12 regular season schedule. He's capable of scoring effectively around the rim, his jump shot isn't broken, and he gets to the line very prolifically, even if he is aggressive to a fault at times. He proved to be a willing passer, dishing out a respectable 2.9 assists per-40 minutes pace adjusted, and scored impressively on the break, showing the ability to fill lanes or push the ball himself. Surrounded by better talent in a more up-tempo offense, Brown will likely have an easier time utilizing his superior physical tools and nose for getting to the basket in the open floor and half-court.
The upside for Brown is that there is already a player like him in the NBA who has had a similar journey, so he's not going to drop out of the lottery. As we've seen, shooting can be corrected for non-shooters in college, particularly if the athleticism is already present. Jimmy Butler went 30th to the Chicago Bulls five years ago due to similar concerns about shooting and offensive ability and great hair, and now he's heading to Rio to represent the red, white and blue. If Brown can get even halfway there, he'll have a very successful NBA career.
Where do the mocks have him?
SB Nation has him going real high: The Boston Celtics take him with the 3rd overall pick.
He's a tremendous athlete who enters the league ready to be a versatile defender and he's a good ball handler who can both bully or finesse his way to the rim. But he needs to improve his jumper and his decision making to elevate his game to the next level.
Many feel that the draft drops off significantly after the eighth pick, with a sea of uncertainty regarding who the next best prospect might be. That should make for a fairly easy choice for the Kings, even if Jaylen Brown's inexperience and lack of perimeter shooting is far from an ideal fit on their current roster
Can't wait to see Brown's name get called tonight. Where do you see him being the best fit in the league?