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Jaylen Brown's physical tools, potential make him intriguing for Nuggets at No. 7

Dan Fatigato Avatar
June 4, 2016


Up until the NBA draft on June 23, the BSN Nuggets staff will review first-round prospects the Nuggets may target. We’ll look at their skill set, the role they will play in the league and how they could potentially fit in Denver.

Jaylen Brown, F, California

California’s Jaylen Brown entered college as a top blue-chip recruit after lighting up the high school ranks and AAU circuit as a teenager. His considerable physical gifts as a small forward at 6-foot-7, 225 pounds has had him on the radar of NBA scouts for years. His talent was obvious at times at Cal, but the environment there lent itself to Brown trying to do too much at times.

Brown averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds during his freshman year and shot 43.1 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from three in 27.6 minutes per game. He’s currently ranked No. 9 on BSN’s latest Big Board, however, is due to rise as the draft quickly approaches.


For Brown, it all starts with his prototypical body for an NBA wing player. He has the size and wingspan at 7-feet to attack small forwards and the strength to guard some fours at the next level. At just 19-years-old he’s incredibly raw but the potential is obvious. At this point, he’s most comfortable running the floor in transition, where he excels as a primary ballhandler attacking through crowds or filling the lane on the break.

In the halfcourt, Brown is still a work in progress as a spot-up shooter but a much better slasher. He plays above the rim and is one of the better players in the draft at getting to the free throw line. He feasts on bigger, slower defenders on the perimeter, easily blowing past them to get into the lane and finishing with good body control.

His slashing ability should only improve in the NBA when he has more room to operate. The lineups he played in at Cal much of the time were spacing nightmares. With more shooting on the floor alongside him, Brown can wreak havoc in the paint. He has the capacity to take over games as a scorer and create his own highlight reels, as he did in a 27-point outburst against Richmond.

On the defensive end his physical tools project well, but it will take time. He’s strong enough to fight over screens and quick enough to recover. Brown, like most 19-year-olds, struggled with focus and intensity on a consistent basis defensively and the team that drafts him will be betting on his raw talent, youth and the room he has to grow.


Brown was excellent at times his freshman year, but there were also cringe-worthy moments where he tried to do too much. The lack of spacing in Cal’s offense mixed with the pressure on Brown to prove his lottery status made for an up and down year for the 19-year-old and there were plenty of times when Brown didn’t look comfortable on the offensive end.

The issues start with his jump shot, which showed some flaws as he shot just 30.1 percent on two-point jumpers, per hoop-math.com. His form is a bit awkward, he has an inconsistent release point and his feet tend to go haywire when in the air. He is especially challenged when shooting off the dribble.

His shot isn’t broken per say, but at this point in his career, he needs to be wide open with his feet set to shoot efficiently. Thus, Brown will eschew jumpers to get into the lane, where he gets tunnel vision on his drives. Brown’s handle is merely average, so when he forces the issue he tends to give the ball up.

He also commits a lot of charges in the half court and transition. In the NBA Brown will need to learn to let the game come to him, or else he’ll commit plenty of turnovers, offensive fouls, force bad shots and miss open teammates.

Defensively the tools are there, but Brown ball-watches and loses track of his man off-ball. He was disengaged at times which manifested itself in an unwillingness to fight through screens, even though he has the strength to do so. Still, it’s hard to ignore a player that can do things like this:

Potential fit in Denver – You can never have too many big, athletic wings. Denver’s small forwards are either injury-prone (Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler) or unproven (JaKarr Sampson, Axel Toupane), so they could certainly take Brown as an investment in his potential.

The Nuggets are quickly gaining a reputation as one of the better player development staffs in the league and surely could bring Brown along smoothly in Denver. Brown can improve as a shooter, but he won’t help the Nuggets in potentially their biggest area of need right away. If the Nuggets truly want to address a need in the lottery, Brown isn’t the best option.

Current projection – Brown has been projected anywhere from the third to the ninth pick. There’s a chance he will be there for the Nuggets at No. 7 overall, and if he is, I’d expect the Nuggets to take a serious look at him.



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