“Some days you go bear hunting and you get eaten.”
- Laurell K. Hamilton
MOCK DRAFT PICK No. 5
JAYLEN BROWN, FRESHMAN, CALIFORNIA (CAL)
6’7” • 220 lbs. • 7’0” WINGSPAN
Jaylen Brown is a 6-7 shooting guard and small forward who currently plays for the Cal Golden Bears of the Pac-12 Conference. A true freshman, Brown was a five-star recruit with offers from just about every top program imaginable. Thank God he didn’t go to Kentucky.
Brown, first and foremost, is a dynamic athlete. He’s explosive on the way to the basket, able to take defenders off the dribble and finish strong at the rim. He’s great in the open floor and a huge threat to make highlight-reel plays in transition using his nose for the ball–he knows how to fill the lanes.
His ability to score in transition is highlighted in the following video when Cal played against Richmond earlier this season.
In this contest, he has 27 points and AND1-Mixtape-Tour dunks in both the half court and the fast break. Kid looks like Jason Richardson out there (when Richardson played for the Warriors). He also looks like my Create-A-Player on NBA 2K, except for he’s not a 6-11 point guard with silver cornrows named Jamsdalf TheGrey (his dunk package is there though).
On the season, Brown is averaging 15.8 points / 5.5 rebounds / 2 assists / 0.6 blocks / 0.7 steals on .457 percent shooting and a PER of 19.6. He’s shooting an impressive .516 percent on 2-point FGs, thanks in part to his ability to get easy shots near the rim due to an impressive set of physical tools that give him an edge over all of his opponents in college.
These physical tools extend to the defensive side of the ball as well. His length makes him a great wing defender, able to play gaps as well as passing lanes. He also contests lots of shots because of his size advantage, particularly when playing shooting guard and defending other guards. His great timing on his jumps helps him to also be a very effective rebounder, especially on the offensive side. For being a 6-7 wing, he scores a lot on putbacks and second-chance opportunities.
Brown has very few drawbacks, but his most major one is his lack of perimeter jump shooting. On the season, he is a below-average .284 percent shooter, and has occasionally shown poor shooting form the further out he is from the basket. He’s so used to being able to get his way in the paint that this really hasn’t affected his game too much, but in the NBA, where everybody’s taller, better, faster, stronger, he’s going to need to develop an outside presence so that teams don’t just run a 3-2 zone and collapse on him when he drives the lane.
As a young player, he also makes poor decisions sometimes. He plays hero-ball often, and tries to do too much on the offensive end. Because of his athleticism, he’s made many difficult, contested shots inside, but again, this is the college game. This ability to hit improbable shots down low will not be the same at the next level. He needs to become a more efficient passer, specifically on drive-and-kick plays to find open players on the perimeter. For a guy who plays 2-guard often, two assists a game isn’t particularly impressive. If he can improve his passing, outside shooting, and decision making, Jaylen Brown has all of the qualities of a future NBA super star.