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PBT’s 2016 NBA Draft Prospect Preview: Jaylen Brown

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Jaylen Brown is one of the more unique players in this draft class, and not from a basketball perspective. Take, for example, the fact that Brown opted not to hire an agent leading up to the draft, instead relying on a team of advisors that includes Isiah Thomas and Shareef Abdur-Rahim to help him through the process.

Even when he was being recruited by colleges, Brown waited until late on a random Friday night in the spring to announce that he would be spurning the bluebloods to enroll at Cal. There are NBA decision-makers that think he may be too smart for the league, so to speak.

He also happens to be the physical ideal for an NBA small forward with a long way to go to be an NBA player.

Height: 6′ 6.75″
Weight: 223
Wingspan: 6′ 11.75″
2015-16 Stats: 14.6 points, 5.4 boards, 2.0 assists, 29.4% 3PT

STRENGTHS: Brown is everything that you could possibly want out of an athlete at the small forward spot. He’s 6-foot-7. He has a 7-foot wingspan. He’s athletic in every way you would need to be athletic: He can run in transition, he’s explosive in space, he’s explosive in traffic, he’s a one-foot and two-foot leaper, he’s quick laterally, he’s strong. It’s all there, and it’s easy to look at him and see a guy who can eventually be an elite perimeter defender in the NBA.

That athleticism comes into the equation when Brown is attacking the rim, be it in transition or in half court settings. He’s a highlight reel waiting to happen when he’s got a head of steam going, and he’s quick enough that he can get by a defender from a standstill. In other words, he doesn’t need to attack a close-out in order to get to the bucket.

Brown is still very raw at this point in his development. He’s a work in progress — I’ll get to that in a minute — but it is important to note that he shows flashes of potential. He can change direction and he has some body control. He doesn’t have stiff hips, showing off the wiggle needed to get around defenders in the lane. He has the ability to do all of that. Learning to control it is a different story.

Next up in our NBA Draft prospect breakdowns is California Golden Bearsforward Jaylen Brown, who is one of the best athletes in the draft but who also has a long way to go before he's an impact player at the next level.

Posted by Rob Dauster on Tuesday, June 21, 2016

WEAKNESSES: Brown is essentially going to have to be taught how to be an NBA player. He doesn’t have a great feel for the game at this point, and he doesn’t quite understand how to use his physical tools.

The best example I can give of this is his dependency on playing bully ball. That worked in high school, when he went up against guys that didn’t have the same level of strength and athleticism that he does. It didn’t work at the college level, where 22-year olds in the Pac-12 aren’t going to let themselves get run over by a freshman that doesn’t have combination moves in his repertoire just yet.

He lacks craftiness, particularly around the rim, and he doesn’t quite understand how to avoid picking up offensive fouls. This issue also manifests itself with Brown’s tunnel vision. He’s not a selfish player and he’s a good enough passer when he sees the play developing, he just doesn’t yet understand where helpside rotations are coming from and who is going to be open as a result.

It didn’t help matters that the biggest issue Cal had this season was floor-spacing, meaning that, at this point, Brown’s skills should translate well to the NBA, where he’s going to be on the floor with plenty of shooters. But the bottom line is that, at this point in his development, he’s essentially a straight-line driver and not much else. That will only get you so far.

The other issue is that his shooting and his ball-handling is not at an NBA level yet. He’s super-inefficient, and much of that is due to his poor shooting. He shot 29.4 percent from three, 48.2 percent from inside the arc and around 45 percent at the rim. Throw in his turnover issues — nearly a quarter of his isolation possessions resulted in a turnover due to ball-handling issues and questionable decision-making — and what you get is a guy who produced solid numbers but needed a ton of opportunities to get those numbers.

Also worth noting: As much potential as he has defensively, he’s still learning how to maintain focus for an entire possession. Watching film on him, he has a tendency to ball-watch and can be a step-late on rotations. He can also be a total nightmare defending on the ball.

His jumper is fixable. His handle can get tightened up. He’s going to get better defensively playing in the NBA. He can be a starter in the NBA at some point in his career, it just may not be for a while.

NBA COMPARISON: The name you always heard as a comparison for Brown during his AAU days was Stanley Johnson. They played the same position the same way, and they had the same haircut. That’s usually enough to draw lazy comparisons.

It also doesn’t make much sense considering that Stanley had two inches and 20 pounds on Brown while Brown is a superior athlete. Given his issues offensively, Brown is a tough guy to project here. If he puts in the work, he could end up being Jimmy Butler. Hell, his physical tools and skill development is similar to what Kawhi Leonard‘s was when he left college, but the thing both of those guys have in common is that they lock themselves in a gym and won’t leave until they’re better than they were at the start of the day.

Does Brown have that in him?

Because if he doesn’t, I think he’ll likely end up being somewhere between an Al-Farouq Aminu and a Harrison Barnes.

OUTLOOK: Brown has all the physical tools that you could ask for out of an NBA small forward. He’s a shade under 6-foot-7, he’s 225 pounds, he has a wingspan that is just under 7-feet. He’s explosive, he’s mobile, he’s agile. He can defend guards and is strong enough to guard small-ball fours.

There isn’t much more that you could ask about of a small forward prospect athletically.

But whoever drafts him is going to have to teach him how to be an NBA basketball player, because he just doesn’t have the feel that you like to see out of a prospect. He … well, he looked like a freshman out there. He tried to play bully ball, which worked on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit but didn’t work against juniors and seniors in the Pac-12. He’s not selfish but he gets tunnel vision around the basket. He needs plenty of work on his jumper, both spotting up and off the dribble; someone with his athleticism should not be taking set-shot pull-ups. Some of his mental lapses defensively are inexcusable, and he’s careless with the ball offensively.

He has some bad habits that need to be broken, but everything about his game is fixable. The question is going to end up being whether or not he is willing to put in the work to make himself an upper-echelon NBA wing.

Video: Carmelo Anthony says he’d have won 2-3 titles if drafted by Detroit

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In an Instagram Live chat with friend Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony said he’d “have won 2-3 championships if drafted by the Detroit Pistons:

Anthony was drafted third overall in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. LeBron James went off the board first to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pistons then drafted Darko Milicic with the second pick. Chris Bosh was drafted fourth by the Toronto Raptors, and Wade was selected with the fifth pick by the Miami Heat.

James, Wade and Bosh would famously team up in Miami seven years later. Those three and Anthony all put together Hall of Fame careers. Milicic was another story entirely.

Detroit had that second overall pick by virtue of a 1997 sign-and-trade with the then Vancouver Grizzlies for forward Otis Thorpe. Vancouver didn’t even keep Thorpe for one full season, as he was shipped to the Sacramento Kings at the 1998 trade deadline. By the 2003 draft, the team had moved from Vancouver to Memphis.

The Pistons went on to win the championship in 2003-04, despite relatively limited production from rookie Milicic. The seven-footer played in just 34 games as a rookie during Detroit’s title run. Milicic then appeared in just 62 games over the next two seasons before he was traded to the Orlando Magic at the 2006 trade deadline.

Despite never living up to his draft position, Milicic did carve out a 10-year NBA career. On the other hand, Anthony blossomed into a 10-time All-Star.

Anthony went on to make six All-NBA teams over the course of his time with the Nuggets and New York Knicks. He holds a career average of 23.6 points per game, but has yet to win that elusive title.

Detroit passing on Anthony is one of the more interesting  what if’s in recent NBA history. The Pistons only got the one championship, but made the Finals back-to-back years. They had a multiple year run of contention behind a core of Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamiltion in the backcourt. The frontcourt was anchored by Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince. The one thing that group struggled with on occasion was scoring, which Anthony would have provided.

Had Anthony been drafted by the Pistons, he’d likely have a ring and Detroit would have a fourth banner. Who knows? Maybe they’d each have a couple more beyond that.

Former NBA player OJ Mayo to sign in China

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When the Liaoning Flying Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association return to play, they’ll have a familiar face to NBA fans suiting up for them. Liaoning announced they are signing former NBA player O.J. Mayo to a contract for the remainder of this season.

Mayo has been out of the NBA since the end of the 2015-16 season. The scoring guard was banned from the NBA due to a violation of the league’s anti-drug policy. He was eligible for reinstatement at the start of the 2018-19 season.

Since being banned from the NBA, Mayo has signed to play with various clubs in Puerto Rico, Taiwan and with a team in China’s second division.

During his eight-year NBA career, Mayo played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks. The 32-year old guard holds a career average of 13.8 points per game on 43/37/82 shooting splits.

With Liaoning, Mayo may suit up alongside former NBA players Lance Stephenson and Brandon Bass. The club announced that Mayo will undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine, after which they expect him to back up Stephenson.

Neither Stephenson nor Bass have returned to China following the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s unclear when either player will return, as the CBA has delayed their return to play until May.

Alabama’s Herbert Jones declares for 2020 NBA Draft

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University of Alabama junior forward Herbert Jones announced via Instagram that he’s declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft:

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All Glory to God 🙏🏽

A post shared by Herb Jones 🛸 (@yung.ch0) on

Jones says he’s declaring while maintaining his eligibility.

In his third campaign with the Crimson Tide, Jones turned his best collegiate season. The six-foot-seven forward scored 7.9 points on 48.4% shooting. He also grabbed 6.4 rebounds per game. Jones was also one of Alabama’s best defensive players.

Alabama has also seen starting guard Kira Lewis and John Petty Jr. declare for the draft.

Lewis is expected to be a first-round pick, while Petty and Jones are considered to be late second-round talents.

Arizona’s Zeke Nnaji, DePaul’s Paul Reed declare for NBA draft

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Nobody knows when the NBA Draft is going to take place — like everything with the NBA calendar, it is up in the air — but for college players whose season has ended now is the time to declare and throw their hats in the ring.

Two possible draftees did that Saturday.

Arizona center Zeke Nnaji was one.

The 6’11” Nnaji averaged 16.1 points per game on 57 percent shooting, plus grabbed 8.6 rebounds a game his freshman season at Arizona. In a good sign, he shot 76% from the free throw line, meaning he should be able to space the floor and hit midrangers (and maybe someday threes). He brings a lot of energy to the court, but is considered raw still on both ends of the floor and not an elite defender.

Nnaji is a bubble first-round pick.

The other player coming out is DePaul forward Paul Reed.

A projected first-rounder is a generous description by Charania, Reed is seen more as a second-round pick (and without a Draft Combine or workouts with teams it will be difficult to move up). He’s a 6’9″ power forward who averaged 15.1 points and 10.7 rebounds a game this season. Reed shot the three well as a sophomore (40 percent) but regressed this past season. He’s athletic but needs to get stronger, and he needs to be able to fit into a role at the NBA level to last.

That said, he will likely get a chance somewhere to prove he belongs.