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2021 NBA Draft Profile: Is Greg Brown the future-forward pick for Denver?

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NCAA Basketball: Texas at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly the entire NBA has moved on to draft season as fans prepare to see who their team will be adding to the roster. The Denver Nuggets are currently slated to pick 26th overall on draft night, and there should be some interesting prospects available for them to select. Continuing with the Stiffs draft profiles today is Texas’ Greg Brown. Brown is one of the younger prospects in this class, and, compared to yesterday’s draft prospect, Neemias Queta, his youth is one of his biggest advantages. While some of the players in the draft are ready to contribute from Day 1, Brown is one of the players that’s going to need some time to develop his game for the NBA pace of play.

While there were other big names making waves in the Big 12 this year, Brown was the guy that was tasked with doing all of the other work while growing behind the guys ahead of him. In the draft process, Brown is listed as a small forward, but he was the team’s starting power forward this past year. The team’s starting center was senior Jericho Sims, and sophomore Kai Jones was coming off of the bench and averaging 22.8 minutes per game. Brown wasn’t brought in to be a scorer or a focal point of the offense, so that’s why it mattered that he focused on the other aspects of his game. He went on to be named to the All Big-12 Freshman Team along with the All Big-12 Newcomer Team. Brown would be looking at a similar role on this Nuggets’ roster, and, for a team that wants to compete for multiple years to come, he’s the type of developmental player that could become a potential starter in the future to keep the team’s window open.

Brown struggled to end his lone college season. Between that and his lack of polish, what are the expectations for him in the draft?

Greg Brown - Texas

Vitals

Age: 19 (born September 1, 2001)

Height: 6-foot-7.5

Weight: 206 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-10

Per game Stats (Age-22 season)

Untitled

Season Games Minutes Points Rebounds Blocks FG% 3P% TS%
Season Games Minutes Points Rebounds Blocks FG% 3P% TS%
Regular Season 23 22.2 10.3 6.7 1.1 39.8% 33.2% 51.1%
Tourney 3 8.3 1.7 2.7 0.0 66.7% 50.0% 83.3%

Brown’s lone college season was an exciting one. The Big 12 was loaded with talent, and the Longhorns were no exception. Brown was behind a couple of talented bigs in the frontcourt, but he was still able to make a few highlight splash plays along the way. At the next level, he’ll be looking to use that high-flying athleticism to make a few more plays like these.

Strengths

Athleticism

Brown moves extremely well at his size, and you see it on both ends of the floor. On the defensive end, you see multiple instances of his ability to switch onto players effectively from point guard through power forward with the occasional center switch thrown in. The ability for players in the frontcourt to move laterally with guards without fouling is incredibly important. Brown has the athleticism to make those moves, but he does have to work on not fouling as he did average 5.2 fouls per 36 minutes.

On offense, there are plays where he catches the ball at the 3-point line and goes to the rim with ease. This play against Indiana where he catches the ball in the corner, drives the baseline before finishing with a reverse layup after double-clutching the ball in the air is just a beautiful watch. He isn’t a super polished player, but, as a move-defender that can catch lobs and slash to the rim, he’s got some talent to work with.

Rebounding

This one is probably tied mostly to his athleticism, but Brown is a talent around the rim at snagging loose balls. Per 40 minutes, Brown was averaging 12.0 rebounds which led the team among players that played more than two minutes this season. As we’ve seen this postseason, with the Milwaukee Bucks leading all teams in offensive rebounds per game, those extra possessions add up over the course of a game. Extra possessions equal more points which equal a greater chance to win.

Age

Brown will still be 19 when the draft takes place later this month. His age gives him time to grow without really putting the Nuggets in a bind to get him on the floor as a rookie while he grows his game. It’s also possible that Brown’s going to grow more in the next few years as he continues to age. The best example of this is Giannis Antetokounmpo who was 6’9” and 196 pounds when he was drafted, and he’s now listed at 6’11” and 242 pounds. While Brown may not have that much of a growth spurt, he does have the chance to grow.

Age is also so important when looking at a player from a contract perspective. If Brown makes it through all five years of his rookie deal, he’ll only be 24 when he’s heading into his first bit of free agency. Assuming he re-signs for a four-year deal, he wouldn’t have even hit the age of 30 by the time he’s ready for his third deal. For NBA teams that pay attention to the future and the long-term optics of a player, Brown is the type of guy to be looking at in this draft cycle. Age also matters if the rest of your roster is getting expensive but will be aging out in the future. While he may not be ready to compete now, he will be ready in four years when you have to let an aging veteran go.

Weaknesses

Lack of Polish

Brown is a young player, but he is a very raw player at this stage of his career. He’s going to need at least one full season of development before he’s ready to contribute to a team that’s competing for championships. This is one reason that he’ll likely be lower on the board for the Nuggets and other teams that are looking for plug-and-play options in the draft. Brown has the potential to be a talented starter, but he’s not ready for a large role right now.

At Texas, it was clear that he still has a lot of work to do on his jump shot to really space the floor, and he doesn’t bring much as a ball-handler either. So, whatever NBA team ends up drafting Brown is effectively getting a player that can’t shoot from 3-point range, but he also can’t easily create his own shot. Both of those are going to hurt his draft stock.

Ball Handling

The more ball handlers that a team can put on the floor the better. Brown is not going to be that guy for his NBA team as a rookie. He is best used as a slasher that is moving downhill towards the rim where his athleticism gives him an advantage over most other players. Per game last season, Brown was averaging 2.3 turnovers per game and 4.0 per 36 minutes.

NBA coaches, especially veteran coaches, don’t have the patience to let a young player push through mistakes such as turnovers. Teams that are competing for championships have to take care of the ball because, as with offensive rebounds, extra possessions matter more and more as the year goes on, and turnovers don’t help you keep those possessions.

Fouling

Per 36 minutes, Brown was averaging 5.2 fouls while he was on the floor. If you’re going up against a team that has a player such as Andre Drummond that you’re trying to send parading to the free-throw line to stall a team’s offense, it’s good to have a guy that can burn fouls for you. However, the vast majority of the time you’re not trying to do that. Brown’s size and physicality get him into trouble when he gets a little overzealous. While he’s a quality defender, you can’t have him on the floor in the key moments when you’re concerned with his ability to defend without fouling.

Verdict

While Brown does have a decent ceiling if he’s able to fully develop, he has a long way to go to actually reach that point. It’s somewhat surprising to see that he’s entering the draft after just one season in college, especially considering the other players that are leaving school this year which would allow him a chance to shine brighter as the lone star on the Texas team in the 2021-22 season.

For a team like Denver, the main draw to Brown is the long-term potential. If he’s able to become a rotation-level player in Year 2, the pick is a win. However, they’re in win-now mode which is why drafting someone that’s more of a project seems less likely. For Brown and the Nuggets alike, the best outcome is for Brown to end up in a situation where the expectations are low early on in his career as he works on his polish at the next level.