The Peachtree Hoops staff will profile several prospects ahead of the 2021 NBA Draft (which is now less than two weeks away!), with an eye on what the Atlanta Hawks may be looking at bringing in. Today we examine Greg Brown, a high flying forward out of Texas. For the full list of prospects we have profiled so far, click here.
Flashy. Raw. Athletic. Upside. Those are the best words to describe Greg Brown as an NBA Draft prospect.
Both ESPN and 247Sports ranked Brown the ninth best high school player in the 2020 recruiting class. He was a 17-year-old kid who was dropping jaws with his freaky athleticism and posterizing dunks on social media, all while standing at 6’9” and about 200 lbs. With that said, it is difficult to blame scouts for being so high on the recruiting boards.
Brown’s projection is all over the radar and really depends on who you ask. ESPN currently ranks him as the 52nd best prospect in the 2021 draft class, but in June, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic slotted him at 27th overall on his draft big board.
Brown is one of the common one and done college players who is entering the NBA Draft underdeveloped. That has not prevented so many talented college and European stars from being picked in the first few selections of the draft, so why is Brown projected to fall to the late first round or early second round? That simply boils down to his production in Austin, or rather lack thereof.
He was not the star at Texas that many expected him to become, and many Longhorns fans online believed that he actually regressed as the season went on. Brown’s game is just extremely raw and underdeveloped- two words that will seem cliche by the end of this profile.
That led to him getting a small amount of time on the floor compared to other talented prospects and college players of his caliber. Playing 20.6 minutes per game is less than ideal when the player in question is considered one of the top talents in the country. Again, Brown was just raw, and then head coach Shaka Smart did not seem to trust him throughout the season.
The lack of trust was seen when Brown would be on the sideline during pivotal moments at the ends of games.
In those 20.6 minutes, Brown averaged 9.3 points per-game and 6.2 rebounds. In hindsight, that’s not a poor statline for the limited playing time, and the rebounding numbers are actually good. His sample size was just so limited, and some of that is attributed to coaching decisions.
He only took 193 shots in 26 games, knocking down about 42% of them. Nothing special. In limited attempts, he made 33% of his three-pointers.
His numbers do not jump off the screen.
The kicker and the reason he is an NBA prospect: Upside and athleticism.
The offensive end of the court is where Brown’s game needs more work. In high school, he relied on his athleticism and size to dominate and get to the rack. He found that to not be as easy on the collegiate level.
Still, Brown showed off his abilities quite often. His transition game is something that could be special at the next level with the proper coaching.
The flashes and upside of Greg Brown stem from his athleticism- something that could make him a two-way threat, shown below pic.twitter.com/E9h2tJMPVt— Mavs / Magic Draft (@MavsDraft) July 13, 2021
Brown is an average shooter. He showed he can hit open spot-up threes. That is something he needs to get better at if he wants to be an effective two-way player in the league, but the potential is there.
Where Brown needs the most development on offense is shot creation. His game mostly consisted of getting to the rim or taking open jumpers. He rarely put the ball on the floor and found his own shots.
His playmaking is underdeveloped and that may be putting it lightly. He averaged a whopping 0.4 assists per-game in his lone year at Texas, albeit, Brown is not playing basketball because he is a playmaking guard that is going to rack up assists. That is not who he is. However, that does not mean that he cannot develop into a better playmaker and work on his vision and feel for the game.
Brown is an athlete. That is the best way to describe him. He lives at the rim on offense.
This is some athleticism from Greg Brown. pic.twitter.com/glw6B4UWEJ— Poliseli (@BasketScoutBR) July 13, 2021
He can be a contributor off the bench or even a starter one day if he becomes a more consistent three-point shooter and dynamic shot creator. Right now, he is not those things.
Because Brown’s offensive game needs so much work, his defensive upside is why he is still considered an NBA prospect after a lackluster freshman season.
He uses his speed athleticism to keep ball handlers in front of him out on the perimeter. He shows lots of energy and effort on the defensive end in bursts. If he can find it in him to prolong those bursts, he can be a very good defender in the NBA.
In the below clip, he switches onto Davion Mitchell, a projected lottery pick and forces a missed shot.
Horns Ball Screen -> Greg Brown switches onto Davion Mitchell— Jackson Lloyd (@JLloyd952) July 8, 2021
Mitchell is excellent at getting separation w/ dribble, but Brown does well it not panicking/fouling once he's given up space.
Forces an air-ball. pic.twitter.com/0TqAfIfjLm
Brown has the frame and length to guard pretty much every position on the floor given the scenario. He may have a hard time defending small guards and oversized centers, but he projects to be a good defender against 2s, 3s and 4s.
When he is active, he is a disruptor. In this clip, he is all over the floor and looking for a pass deflection. He finishes the possession by getting a hand up and bothering the shooter after a good closeout.
Brown averaged 12 rebounds per 40 minutes. Again, athleticism and effort are not teachable parts of basketball. If he keeps that drive and has the right coaching, he can be a positive rebounder in the NBA.
If he develops and fills out his frame, he has similar qualities to Aaron Gordon. That is a rough comparison, but prospect projections are often rough.
Fit with the Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks are a team that showed they were ahead of their rebuilding schedule this past season when Trae Young and now head coach Nate McMillan helped lead them to the Eastern Conference Finals and win two games in that series. They also showed that there aren’t many holes on the roster. A consistent backup point guard and maybe another big that can rotate behind Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu are possibly their only true needs.
Greg Brown does not necessarily fit those needs. His defensive upside as someone who can guard multiple positions and rebound should be enticing for the Hawks if he is still on the board at pick 38. There is a possibility that John Collins will not play for the Hawks again, and that potential signing, trade or sign-and-trade is yet to be seen. If Collins is not on the roster next season, Brown would not be a horrible guy to have as forward depth.
Brown’s defense and rebounding potential is high, and those are two aspects of the game that the Hawks have struggled with in recent years. Brown is raw, and the Hawks are a contending team now. GM Travis Schlenk and company may deem that he does not fit on the Hawks’ calendar.