Kendall Brown is a pure athlete, needs to develop offensively

Sixers draft profile: Kendall Brown’s a pure athlete who must develop offense originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

A scouting report on NBA draft prospect Kendall Brown:

Brown was a freshman starter for a surprising Baylor team that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament despite losing four starters from the 2021 national championship team. He’s an NBA athlete without a doubt but needs significant offensive skill development to become an NBA rotation player.

In 27 minutes per game at Baylor, Brown averaged 9.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.7 turnovers and one steal.

Strengths

Brown is one of the best pure athletes in this draft class, a great mover laterally with the quickness to contest at the three-point line and then recover on drives. He’s got a 6-11 wingspan and can simply swallow up smaller guards trying to drive by him. It’s not hard to imagine him becoming an elite wing defender with the right coaching and effort level.

He’s explosive in transition, an above-the-rim finisher who will also show off Euro steps on his way to the hoop to beat the last defender. If you only watched him on fast breaks, you’d think he was a no-doubt lottery pick. As a pure athlete (not an overall player), he reminds me a lot of Aaron Gordon.

Brown’s athleticism also helps him crash the offensive glass, and he’ll make some high-level, quick passes off those rebounds to find open teammates. He’s also an excellent cutter. The 19-year-old has an impressive feel for those aspects of the game that may be his bread and butter as an NBA role player.

Weaknesses

There’s a reason I look at Brown and say role player. Despite his off-the-charts athleticism, Brown did not display the offensive tools to be an NBA shot creator or 3-and-D forward in his freshman season at Baylor.

He has a slow release on his jumper, which is mechanical and often misses badly. He was hesitant to even attempt college threes, shooting 34.1 percent on only 1.2 attempts per game. At this stage, Brown is a poor shooter, both from the mid-range and the three-point line. When he drives, he struggles going left and is also turnover-prone, often getting stuck when he can’t get to the basket.

His half-court offensive game has a long way to go.

Fit

I won’t be surprised if a team gambles on Brown’s athletic ability somewhere in the 20s on draft night. It makes some sense for teams like San Antonio, Denver, Memphis and Oklahoma City that have multiple first-round picks.

The Sixers could use a wing athlete like Brown but in my opinion, he’s simply too far away on the offensive end to fit on the Joel Embiid / James Harden win-now timeline. They drafted Jaden Springer last season and watched him play nearly the entire season in the G League. Brown might need similar seasoning and I’m not sure the Sixers can have the patience to let him develop.

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