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2022 NBA Draft Prospect Profiles: Kendall Brown

Once a five-star recruit, is Kendall Brown a good fit in Memphis?

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NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Baylor Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

The prospect profiles continue on Grizzly Bear Blues. For more, visit the “Memphis Grizzlies 2022 Draft Coverage” group to see more of our profiles on draft prospects and their potential fits with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Kendall Brown, Guard, Baylor

  • 6’8”, 6’11” wingspan, 201 pounds, 19 years old, from Cottage Grove, MN
  • Last season at Baylor: In 34 games (27 minutes per game) — 9.7 points on 58.4% shooting (34.1% from 3, 68.9% from the FT line), 4.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.0 steals
  • 2020-2021 season at Sunrise Christian Academy: In 20 games — 15.4 points on 60.1% shooting (33.3% from 3, 79.2% from the FT line), 4.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.8 steals
  • 3 STATS OF STRENGTH (per Tankathon): Field Goal Percentage (58.4%), Effective Field Goal Percentage (61.5%), Draft age (19)
  • 3 STATS TO IMPROVE: Points(9.7), Projected NBA 3P Percentage (32.6%), PER (18.4)
  • AWARDS AND ACCOLADES: 2021-22 Big 12 All-Freshman, Preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year
  • CURRENT BIG BOARD PLACEMENT: 20 (Tankathon), 24 (The Ringer), 33 (ESPN), 23 (CBS Sports), 22 (The Athletic), 32 (Bleacher Report)

The Grizzlies have found success by drafting a certain type of player. The organization has gravitated toward players who spent time in college and gained valuable experience; Brandon Clarke, Desmond Bane, and Xavier Tillman all had very successful college careers and dropped, because most teams prioritize raw talent usually found in 18 and 19-year-olds.

So last year it was surprising when the Grizzlies drafted Ziaire Williams – the definition of a raw talent. Having already shined in crunch-time playoff minutes, it feels as if the Grizzlies struck gold again with Williams. Now, the Grizzlies are faced with a prospect who is similar to Williams in a lot of ways.

Kendall Brown, like Williams, is a 6’8” 19-year-old who was a five-star recruit and once ranked in the top fifteen of his respective class. Brown is an extremely athletic wing who can jump out of the gym. His size and quick change of direction make him a formidable defender and an emerging offensive talent. Sound familiar?

Despite being bounced from the NCAA tournament in the Round of 32, Brown accumulated a lot of important college experience. Baylor was a top-five team for much of the season and Brown averaged 27 minutes a game in one of the toughest conferences in college basketball. The poise Brown plays with as a 19-year-old, along with his college experience and raw talent make him an enticing prospect for the Grizzlies.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-North Carolina vs Baylor Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Areas of Strength

Brown has the potential to be an elite NBA defender. With such an impressive physical profile, his size and quickness allow him to guard 1-4. This makes him a great fit in modern NBA defenses, where switchability is crucial. He only averaged one steal and under a half a block a game last year but Brown racked up takeaways in high school.

Brown possesses good awareness for such a young prospect. He always knows where to be and consistently makes the right cuts that often lead to easy buckets. His feel for off-ball movement helps space the floor leading to efficient offense. Last year Baylor was eighth in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency. Additionally, his court awareness and passing instincts show the promise he could become a solid playmaker.

His touch around the rim makes him one of the best finishers in the draft. Brown also has explosive leaping ability and elite body control which make him dangerous from close-range. Brown recorded a true shooting percentage of 63%. He can be dangerous in several roles; last season at Baylor he averaged:

  • Transition: 1.241 points per possession (82nd percentile)
  • Cuts: 1.533 PPP (94th percentile)
  • Drives: 1.494 PPP (96th percentile)

(Per Synergy Sports)

Brown’s ability to be a versatile scorer would shine playing alongside Ja Morant and Bane.

Areas of Improvement

What might make or break Brown’s pro career is his three-point shot. He averaged around 34% from three at Baylor but he will need to progress at the professional level. Tankathon projects him to be a 32.6% three-point shooter in the NBA. That is a better percentage than Jaren Jackson Jr., Ziaire Williams and Dillon Brooks shot last season, but Brown will likely be asked to take more than the 1.2 three-pointers he attempted a game at Baylor.

Brown’s long-ball is about much more than a percentage. He shoots on a low volume and always prefers to drive or pass. If Brown does not progress past functioning as a slasher and cutter, NBA defenses will squander his upside. His reluctance to shoot often makes him fade into the background. Brown also struggles in the mid-range and he often functions as a one-dimensional scorer.

While Brown has the tools to be a defensive menace, he often falls asleep and lets opponents score off of backdoor cuts. His inconsistencies will be glaring on the professional level as players take advantage of Brown’s lackadaisical off-ball defense.

For Brown, his weaknesses are incredibly fixable. With his defensive ability and offensive know-how, he can undoubtedly improve these weaknesses. With the right mindset, Brown can become a solid NBA three-point shooter as well as a consistent wing defender.

Fit with the Grizzlies

Just from an alley-oop, highlight reel, and vibes measurement, Kendall Brown is an excellent fit for the Grizzlies.

Brown is a solid defender and does not need the ball in his hands to be successful. Being matched with Morant would allow Brown to feast on secondary matchups. Without the worry of having to be the primary ball-handler, Brown can run the baseline and find holes in the defense.

However, as hinted at above, a lot of what Brown brings to the table arrived a year ago with Williams. In the modern NBA, you cannot have too many big switchable wings, but it is worth considering if a big guard/wing who is reluctant to shoot is what the Grizzlies should add right now. As a contender, the Grizzlies should be drafting for need, hoping to fill holes they might have.

Two of the biggest question marks of the Grizzlies’ offseason are Tyus Jones and Dillon Brooks. If Brooks is traded, then adding another big wing like Brown could be smart but if Jones departs in free agency and the Grizzlies need a new backup point guard, Brown should not be the replacement. He would be most efficient playing with Morant or Jones, not in place of them.

The Grizzlies have a lot of options with picks 22 and 29. I believe Brown can be an impactful player but Memphis should go in another direction with 22, whether that is another prospect or as part of a trade package. If Brown is somehow still available at 29, he is a value pick and I would excitedly welcome him to Memphis.

Stats found on sports-reference, barttorvik, and Synergy Sports

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