The Boston Celtics have selected California forward Jaylen Brown with the third overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. They were rumored to be looking to deal this pick, perhaps to Philadelphia or in a package for Jimmy Butler, but ended up holding onto it and selecting Brown.
Brown, a high-flying 6'7 wing, entered this year's draft as one of its most intriguing prospects for an unusual reason. While off-court issues often become part of the discussion surrounding certain draft candidates, Brown stood out among his peers because teams were worried he might be too smart.
In a feature by The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears, some executives laid out concerns that Brown, who decided to enter the draft without an agent, might be too inquisitive for some NBA coaches. Leadership is expected to be respected in NBA locker rooms, and some basketball people worried Brown might want to ask too many questions.
Here's what one assistant GM told Spears:
"He is a person who is inquisitive about everything. Because he is so smart, it might be intimidating to some teams. He wants to know why you are doing something instead of just doing it. I don’t think it’s bad, but it’s a form of questioning authority.
"It’s not malicious. He just wants to know what is going on. Old-school coaches don’t want guys that question stuff."
Brown isn't the first extremely intelligent NBA player, but it's clear that his decision not to hire an agent stirred some consternation. The guard is instead having a group of former players like Isiah Thomas and Shareef Abdur-Rahim help advise him. According to Spears, conversations with those two "made him feel comfortable and confident about not hiring representation." It's an unusual route for an elite prospect to take, however, which is probably why it gathered so much attention in the lead up to the draft.
On the court, Brown lives up to the hype as a bouncy wing with tons of room to grow. At 6'7 and 225 pounds, he has the ideal build for the position, so the question is simply whether he can refine his work as a shooter and defender. Athleticism certainly isn't an issue:
During his only year at Cal, Brown averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds while leading the team to a 23-11 record and a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The 19-year-old struggled badly in the team's lone NCAA game, though, fouling out with just four points and seven turnovers in 17 minutes against 13th-seeded Hawaii in a 77-66 loss. Brown surely wants to put that game behind him as quickly as possible.
The good thing is that Brown still has all the tools to develop into a stellar NBA player. Like with many elite athletes coming out of college, three-point shooting remains a crucial area in need of improvement. Brown shot just 29 percent from beyond the arc at Cal and needs to improve there. Steadier mechanics could go a long way toward some improvement, so you imagine that'll be a priority for his new coaches as he makes the leap to the pros.
All in all, Brown is an exciting, unique prospect whose personality could make him one of the more interesting players in the league. Who knows how that ultimately impacted his draft status, but his development should be fun to watch.
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