2022 NBA Draft Profile: Kendall Brown

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern State at Baylor
Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Could the Nuggets target the talented high flyer from Baylor?

Next up in our draft profile series here at Denver Stiffs is Kendall Brown out of Baylor. Brown declared for the draft following a freshman season where he was named to the All-Big 12 Freshman team and helped lead Baylor to another run in the NCAA tournament before ultimately being knocked out by eventual runner-up, North Carolina.

Brown is one of the youngest players in the draft and possesses a ton of upside as he just turned 19 years old last month. The Nuggets worked Brown out Monday at Ball Arena, so there definitely could be some interest there. Considering the Nuggets have two first round picks now, Brown is definitely someone that could be an option at one of those selections.

Kendall Brown, Wing/Forward, Baylor

Vitals

Height: 6’8”

Wingspan: 6’11”

Weight: 205

Age: 19 (5/11/2003)


Brown’s per game stats his freshman season at Baylor (2021-22)

Not the most eye popping numbers from Brown, but certainly not bad ones as he averaged 9.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game while starting in all 34 games he played in. Brown shot 58.4 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from behind the three-point line as he did a lot of his damage from inside the arc. On the defensive end of the floor, Brown averaged one steal and 0.4 blocks per game

The best stat of Brown’s had to be his 63.8 percent shooting percentage from two-point range as he did a really good of making teams pay near the rim. Brown often uses his athleticism to get high percentage looks near the rim and does a really nice job of converting them.


Strengths

Athleticism

When you turn on the tape it’s virtually impossible to not recognize Brown as he is always one of the most athletic players on the court. Brown is a high flyer who is a dangerous lob threat anytime he is cutting to the basket as he does a great job controlling his body near the rim and using it to his advantage.

It’s not just on lobs as Brown is also incredibly athletic when driving to the basket and has a really nice touch, which is something that can’t be said for all high flying players. Brown has a knack for being near the rim at all times and can often out jump any of his opponents:

The explosiveness Brown plays with is pretty special for a 19-year old and is something that may only get better as he gets in to the NBA. Brown is only going to get faster and stronger at the next level, which is why he has one of the highest upsides in this draft class. It also helps that Brown is not just a leaper, but that he uses his athleticism to his advantage and he knows how to do so in a way that some other athletic players just can’t.

Cutting

Brown does a lot of his damage near the rim as he is one of the best interior scorers in this years draft class. A big reason why Brown is so successful near the rim is because of the high percentage looks he’s getting due to his cutting.

Where Brown is at his best is when he can play off-ball and create by either setting screens or cutting. His skills as a lob threat also shine thanks to his cutting because all the ball handler needs to do it throw the ball in the vicinity of the basket and Brown is going to go up and get it:

Brown’s cutting ability is also what makes him a really solid fit on the Nuggets where he would be playing with high level passers like Nikola Jokic or even Bones Hyland off the bench. If you can work and find a way to get open without the ball in your hands good things are going to happen and Brown’s play is a prime example of that.

Versatile Defender

If you are looking for someone who can guard positions 1-4 than Brown its your guy. Brown does a great job using his frame and athleticism to stop whoever’s in his path whether it’s a guard of forward.

On ball is where Brown did a lot of his damage as a defender, the only concern regarding his defense is he would often get beat backdoor. Not getting caught ball watching and staying locked into whoever he’s guarding is something Brown needs to continue working on because when he’s locked in he possesses the traits to be an elite defender at the next level.


Weaknesses

Shooting

We’ve touched on Brown’s interior scoring — which is a really strong part of his game — but something that needs improvement is his scoring from beyond the arc. When you look at it on paper it looks as if Brown is a pretty solid three-point shooter as he shot 34.1 percent from three, but that was also on just 1.2 attempts per game.

The sample size is just to small as Brown only made 14 of the 41 threes he attempted last season. Brown was also reluctant to shoot from three a number of times and you could tell the confidence isn’t quite there with his outside shot. Opposing teams would sometimes put their center on Brown just daring him to shoot.

Brown’s first instinct when he gets the ball is to either drive to the basket or drive and kick to a teammate. NBA teams will recognize that and dare him to shoot, which are shots he’s going to have to make. It’s not like Brown has a terrible looking shot and with higher usage could come better results, but it’s definitely a concern following last season.

Off-ball defense

At the point of attack, Brown is an exceptional defender, but his off-ball defense could still use some work. Brown can lock down any player with the ball in their hands, but too often gets beat backdoor and gives up easy scores.

Brown was often slow or just a second to late on his defensive rotations at times and that also put his team in a bad spot. If Brown can improve on his defensive awareness than this is an area of his game that should be easy to clean up at the next level.

For a team looking to add more defense like the Nuggets, Brown certainly presents some upside. As long as Michael Malone and his coaching staff could clean up Brown’s rotations and off-ball defense than the chances of him being a really good or even elite defensive player in the NBA are certainly there.


Verdict

I really like Kendall Brown’s fit with the Nuggets and I like it even more now that they acquired the 30th pick in the draft from Oklahoma City. The Nuggets first overall pick at 21 felt a little high for Brown, but I would be more than comfortable betting on his upside and drafting him to close out the first round.

If the Nuggets use both of those first round picks remains to be seen, but I could certainly see Brown being in consideration for one of them. Denver is also in a spot where they are ready to compete for a title next season and I’m not sure Brown would be ready to step into a rotation spot right away.

Could he be a massive contributor for them down the road though? Absolutely, and that’s what makes him such an intriguing option for them. As long as they could clean up the shooting and defense, Brown could easily carve out a rotation spot in two years and would give the Nuggets that high flyer they frankly haven’t had since Kenneth Faried was in town.

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