At 6’8 inches and 205 pounds, Kendall Brown was one of the most athletic and versatile defensemen in the nation for the Baylor Bears last season. Projected as a late first-round pick, Brown has the coveted potential to become a 1-4 defensive back in the NBA. Though raw on offense, his incredible physical attributes and sneaky playmaking skills make him one of the most intriguing candidates in the NBA draft.
Per game: 9.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.4 blocks, 1.7 turnovers, 58.4/34.1/68.9 percent shooting splits
Intermediate: 63.0 percent true shooting, 7.4 boxes plus/minus (3.7 offensive, 3.6 defensive), 4.0 win percentages, 0.174 WS/40
Physical: 6’8″, 6’11” wingspan, 205lbs, 19 years old
With fantastic size and athleticism, Kendall Brown’s physical attributes put him at the top of his draft class. The combination of his great stride speed, jumping ability, and length gives him the potential to hold 1-4 positions in the NBA. At Baylor, he showed the ability to use that athleticism to effectively turn on the pick and roll and act as a secondary rim protector. Leaping out of two feet, Brown has the ability to hit almost any player he faces on the edge and swallow smaller guards. He does a solid job of using his length to break up shots and can even do step backs and pullup threes. In short, he has the tools to break into defensive footing in the NBA. More athletic players stand out in the playoffs, and I can imagine Brown filling a jack-of-all-trades role for jazz.
On offense, Brown does a fantastic job of understanding his role. He knows when to jump to the basket for easy finishes and does well as a second driver. Brown’s edge finish is fantastic and he can use his athleticism for both creative layups and powerful dunks. His touch is surprisingly good and when he gets into open ground he becomes an incredible praise threat.
But perhaps most intriguing of all is Brown’s playmaking ability. He’s an avid passer, averaging nearly 2 assists per game in a very underutilized role. He makes quick decisions with the ball and has fantastic space awareness. While his passes aren’t always pretty, he can find players from the dunker spot, off the drives, and even in pick and rolls. I personally find that players who understand their role well and are skilled passers tend to translate well in the NBA.
In many ways, Brown is still a blank slate. In defense his discipline is still room for improvement and he could improve as a team defender. He can be caught watching the ball or not making the right turn at times. Considering he’s only 19, some of that should be expected. However, he showed a willingness to work as a team player and I have faith that he can improve in this department.
But more importantly, Brown needs to improve as a shooter. Last year at Baylor, Brown shot a respectable 34.1 percent from three but a miserable 68.9 percent from the free throw line. He’s a pretty mixed shot and needs to find his range consistently to unleash his driving skills in the NBA. The ball sits in front of his face when he shoots and his shape makes him seem to stumble when he launches the ball. To me it seems like he’s pushing the ball forward instead of arching it to the rim. His shot doesn’t look bad, but it needs some retooling to be more consistent.
I love the way Kendall Brown fits the Utah Jazz. Utah needs athletics in the worst way and he’s filling that role. At just 19, the holes in Brown’s game have time to develop and he could become a really valuable player for Utah down the line. Even if Jazz needs someone to play minutes right away, Brown’s defense and athleticism will give him a shot from day one. If the Jazz can make a trade in the back half of the first round, I’d like to see them pick Brown.
Al-Farouq Aminu, Royce O’Neale
All statistics from sports-reference.com