Drafted by: Phoenix Suns, No. 50 overall
He flew under the radar in college at Green Bay, but Alec Brown now hopes his 7'1" size and his shooting will be enough to earn a spot in the NBA.
With his smooth, picturesque shooting form and high release, his pro value is based on his ability to stretch the floor and launch jumpers over the defense.
His collegiate production and obvious perimeter mastery may not be enough to secure a place in the NBA initially or in the long term. He got by at Green Bay largely because he towered over his Horizon League opponents, and even then, he didn't always control the game.
How does this small-school star fit in the Association?
|Statistics at Green Bay|
Brown has a 7'1.5" wingspan to go along with his 7'1.25" height and 9'1" standing reach, so he's got enough length to go up against almost every post player.
And that's about where his physical tools stop looking impressive.
Brown weighs 231 pounds, and his weight is thinly spread across his tall frame. He could certainly use 15-25 additional pounds to help him play defense and compete for rebounds.
He's also a below-average athlete, notching a 30" max vertical at the NBA Draft Combine. Fortunately, he can at least move well from end to end and is a mobile shot-blocker.
Whether it's a spot-up triple, a pick-and-pop jumper or a two-dribble pull-up, Brown will bury it with ease.
He shot 43 percent from three-point range as a junior and 42 percent as a senior. And to prove that his range extends out to the NBA line, he hit 18 of 25 at the combine in Chicago.
Brown is equally gifted on jumpers inside the arc, as he sinks 15-20 footers regularly. He will keep NBA defenses honest with baseline tosses and pick-and-pop attempts. Two-point jump shots accounted for 42 percent of his shooting workload in 2013-14, and he hit 40 percent of them, per Hoop-Math.
If the rest of his game is competent enough, there is absolutely no doubt he could fulfill the duties of a stretch 4 or even a stretch 5.
Brown won't block nearly as many shots in the NBA as he did in college (4.1 per 40 minutes in 2013-14), but his length will still serve him well.
"He’s a really tough match-up and a guy that alters shots on the defensive end," Belmont coach Rick Byrd told NBA.com's Chris Dortch.
Until he gains more weight and plays stronger, he's going to give up deep post position. But when opponents try jumpers, baby hooks and putbacks, his 9'1" standing reach and good instincts will come in handy.
As long as he plays smart and maintains a straight-up vertical challenge, he should be able to contest shots without committing too many fouls.
The main concern on both ends of the floor is that Brown is a big man who can't really play like a big man.
He doesn't have a strong low-post repertoire, which limits his offensive versatility, writes Josh Riddell of DraftExpress:
The most logical next step for Brown is to improve his post game, where he struggled his entire career, despite his height advantage most nights in the Horizon League. He needs to add significant strength to his frame, as he was often pushed off the block and forced to catch the ball far from the basket. He then struggled with a lack of advanced footwork, which forced him into difficult contested jump shots or tough hook shots.
His lack of strength also hurts him on the boards and on defense. Brown was outmuscled for many a rebound in college, and the same will happen at the pro level if he doesn't bulk up considerably.
Defensively, he often surrenders good position on the block, which will lead to more detrimental consequences in the NBA than it did at Green Bay.
The twofold problem of a slender frame and unimpressive athleticism is a huge challenge as he tries to make his mark in the league.
Brown will be used early in his career only if the lineup and rotation are flexible enough to accommodate a stretch 4.
Physically, he's not ready to handle the rebounding responsibilities of a true big man, so he would only be employed during four-out, one-in sets where there is a true center alongside him or during five-out sets.
In the event that he gets stronger and exhibits a few simple but effective post moves, then things get interesting.
A 250-pound version of Brown would be able to jockey in the paint, rebound much better and present a stouter defensive wall. He would be able to play in most situations, and his shooting would help drag opposing big men away from the rim.
If he can deliver that type of impact, he would deserve a place in the rotation, and he could eventually become a highly valuable asset as one of the better stretch 4s around.