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2016 NBA Draft New Orleans Pelicans Prospect Preview: Jaylen Brown

The case for selecting the Pac-12's Freshman of the Year.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Jaylen Brown looks like the prototypical NBA wing. He is 6 feel 7 inches tall, has a 7-foot wingspan and weighs about 225 pounds. And he's only 19-years old -- still plenty of time to grow into this man's body of his.

In his one and only season at the University of California at Berkley, Brown was the conference's freshmen of the year, and a member of both the first-team All-Pac 12 team and the all-freshmen team. Brown is one of eight Cal Bears, Jason Kidd being another member, to bring home freshmen of the year honors. He averaged 14.6 points and 5.6 rebounds in his 34 games.

In a two-horse race of a draft with Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, Brown fits into that second tier of prospects with the likes of Dragan Bender, Jamal Murray and Buddy Hield. Brown is almost certainly a top-seven pick, the question is will he be available wherever it is New Orleans picks. Here's what the Pelicans could be getting if he's their guy.


The first thing that jumps off the page about Brown is his aforementioned physique. He's about an inch or two shorter than fellow draftee Brandon Ingram, but Brown outweighs Ingram by about 35 pounds. One of the biggest concerns surrounding Ingram is his thin frame; Brown will have no such worries.

Brown's size is a perfect compliment to his eye-popping athleticism. He can be a two, three or four depending on the lineups his coaches will want to roll with. He's got speed and lateral quickness to go along with size so a future plus-defender seems to be in hand. At the next level he'll be fast enough to stay in front of shooting guards and small forwards, and he'll be big enough to bang with the grown men that are NBA power forwards.

Another thing that separates Brown from others is his aggressive mindset. Brown is constantly attacking the rim and due to his size contact doesn't bother him. On a per-40 minute basis, Brown got to the free throw line about nine times a game and he led the Pac-12 in usage rate at 31.2. He's also an active rebounder, posting a defensive rebounding percentage of 16.5.

Physically and mindset wise there's a lot to like about Jaylen Brown. But like all 19-year-old prospects, there are holes to be found in his game.


While it's great Brown was able to get to the free throw line as often as he did his one year at Cal, how he did at the line is an entirely different story. Brown only made 65 percent of his free throws, which was only marginally worse than LSU's Ben Simmons who made 67 percent of his. But like Simmons, his shooting woes weren't just contained to the free throw line, Brown frankly couldn't shoot from anywhere of distance. His slashline reads 43 percent from the floor, 48 percent on two-point shots and an abysmal 29 percent from three. How do we feel about those numbers?

But there's more than just worrisome shooting numbers, Brown's attack, attack, attack mindset leads to the occasional turnover or two...or 105. Brown's cool 51:81 assist-to-turnover ratio is one of the worst among draft prospects. Again I ask you, the people, how did you react to these numbers?

Brown is a guy who's been able to get by on sheer athleticism. This isn't saying he's lazy or not a hard worker but I assume when you've gone most of your life being bigger and stronger than everyone else, it's easier to not have the soundest of fundamentals. With Brown, it seems more like a mechanics issue than anything else. Both he and Ben Simmons have knocks against their shooting but for different reasons. Simmons, who in one fewer game attempt eight more shots than Brown, is labeled as too passive. Brown just has bad form. You can fix fundamentals; changing a mindset is an entirely different story.

I really like Jaylen Brown for New Orleans. The only problem is if New Orleans picks where they're expected to at six, Brown could be gone before them. If he's there because someone else New Orleans likes is gone, say Buddy Hield, Brown could make for more than a satisfactory consolation prize. He's a project sure, but his combination of size, speed and athleticism is rare. He's got the potential to be an ideal two-way wing that the league is now beginning to value.

If New Orleans is patient, they could have an ideal running mate for Anthony Davis.