|Pulls this face a lot.|Alec Brown
, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Senior, 7'1 235lbs2013/14 stats:
30.3 mpg, 15.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.1 bpg, 1.0 apg, 0.5 spg, 2.2 fpg, 2.2 TOpg, 47.6% FG, 72.7% FT, 42.0% 3PT
A few players on this list either are, could be, will be or should be stretch bigs, but Brown already is one. His stat line is amazingly, captivatingly rare - who blocks three shots a game AND shoots 40%+ from three point range? Raef LaFrentz? Manute Bol in a dream state? Eric Snow on Opposites Day? [The correct answer is indeed LaFrentz; for one season only, in 2001/02.] You just don't see this, and of course, that makes it worth of further examination.
Said further examination, however, reveals some flaws. Brown is very thin for a big man, perhaps flattered by his listed weight, and for all his height, he has short arms. The jumpshot is his main offensive weapon, and a very good one, but it is also the only plus part of his offensive game. Brown receives quite a few touches down in the post, perhaps somewhat under duress, and can make a right handed hook shot from down there, yet it is somewhere he would rather not be. He struggles to body up, overly favours the right hand, struggles against double teams, and can be pushed off the spot too easily. Brown's post footwork is fairly solid - he can pivot and spin either way, and also has a turnaround jumpshot from there which is arguably his best weapon in that area - yet he is infinitely more comfortable as a face-up big.
When facing up, Brown has a decent handle for a 7'1 centre, but the same problems apply. Not especially fast, he struggles to finish over or through defenders, is too easily bumped off the spot, and is smothered by length. He uses good awareness to flash to open spots, particularly in pick and pop and pick and roll sets, yet his ability to create shots rather trails his ability to make them. Generally avoiding contact, Brown rarely gets to the line, and struggles badly to push through or create separation when pivoting down low. He has finesse, but also a jarring lack of power and toughness, and demonstrates little passing game while also racking up quite high turnover numbers from someone rarely asked to create (often by losing the ball or his footing).
Nevertheless, the jumpshot is a mighty fine weapon. Brown spots up incredibly well, especially from the right wing, and is a constant pick and pop option for the Phoenix. He shoots off screens and sometimes throws in a pull-up, and with his height is an option for a jumper every trip down. It really is a smooth stroke, and while Brown does not maximise the driving opportunities it opens up for him, it is nonetheless a very good weapon. Indeed, he should probably use it even more than he does. Brown also has his uses offensively on the glass, where height alone is enough of a factor to keep the ball alive, although the continued improvements in his jumpshot see him spending more and more time on the perimeter and thus reducing this part of his game.
On defense, the naturally thin Brown has bulked up slightly over the years. He, of course, makes his mark as a weak side and shotblocker, at which he is very effective with great timing. He reads the situation, both on the interior and the perimeter, where he plays better pick and roll defense than most and can disrupt a shooter with his blocking tendencies. The lack of strength is of course a huge obstacle on this end, however, particularly in man to man post defense where he is just cleared out by opponents. Green Bay tried to employ him as the help defender rather than the man defender as much as possible, and rightly so so as to mask these flaws and tailor to his strengths, yet the man who roams the paint still needs to be able to defend in isolation down there, and Brown struggles with it.
More concerning is his defensive rebounding rate, which is poor and getting poorer with each season. It is fair to point out that Brown provides so much help defense that he is often out of position on the glass, which is by design, but it is also fair to point out that he does not attack the glass enough even when he does have position. Brown has reduced his foul problems over the years, but the by-product of that is it has meant just avoiding more and more contact, opening up an even more exploitable hole in the defense. His defensive calling card remains the help, both on the perimeter and the interior.
And yet, warts and all, it works for him. Just as the stats suggested, Brown is a shooter and a roamer, and it is still an enticing combination. There's a lot to do, but also two readily identifiable skills that just are not easy to find, and almost impossible to find in combination with each other. Add one inch to his wingspan and take three inches off his height, and this blurb is also a pretty accurate description of what Channing Frye has become. So Brown has every chance of making the NBA.