By Rahul Lal
With the 2016 NBA Draft fast approaching, we’re taking a detailed look at and comparing some of the elite players expected to be drafted in the lottery in our Draft Dilemma series. These players will have a chance to be a part of the next generation of NBA stars and that legacy begins on draft day. The NBA Draft will be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on June 23 at 7 p.m. ET.
Buddy Hield vs. Jaylen Brown
Buddy Hield (Oklahoma, Sr.) and Jaylen Brown (California, Fr.) are two of the top wing prospects and will each be competing for minutes with an NBA team early on. Hield is fresh off a spectacular college season in which he won his second straight Big 12 Conference Men’s Player of the Year award, the John Wooden award, the Naismith award, Sporting News Player of the Year award and the Oscar Robertson award. He was also named a consensus first-team All-American. Brown was named to the first-team All-Pac-12 in addition to his Pac-12 Freshman of the Year award. Here’s a look at each players’ stats, measurements, offensive and defensive ability, motor, potential, NBA readiness and ultimately who wins for each category.
Buddy Hield’s Measurements and Stats:
Age: 22, Height: 6’5″, Weight: 212 lbs., Vertical Reach: 8’5″, Wingspan: 6’9″
25 PTS, 5.7 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 0.5 BLK, .501 FG%, .880 FT%, .457 3P%
Jaylen Brown’s Measurements and Stats:
Age: 19, Height: 6’7″, Weight 223 lbs., Vertical Reach: 8’7″, Wingspan: 7′
14.6 PTS, 5.4 REB, 2 AST, 0.8 STL, 0.6 BLK, .431 FG%, .654 FT%, .294 3P%
Buddy Hield had one of the most memorable and historic college seasons ever. It’s almost unheard of for a player to score as many points as he did while being one of the most efficient players and shooting such a high percentage from the field. Hield had an incredible year going on legendary scoring runs with his NBA range and quick trigger. He even reportedly showed the Celtics his Curry-like range in a recent workout making 85 out of 100 three-pointers. He uses his quick footwork, transition game and past experience of reading the defense to attack with precision and success. He may struggle at the next level, at times, as his game can be predictable and he also had a tough time playing against more athletic defenders since he doesn’t have great bounce on his shot. It is concerning that he finished the season with 113 total turnovers and only 75 total assists.
Jaylen Brown is as deadly as anybody not named Ben Simmons in transition. Brown has all of the physical tools succeed as an uber athletic, big-bodied slasher with elite body control. He slates to be a top-end wing rebounder and can get fouled with ease – an encouraging sign for someone who struggles with his shot. His shot may not be broken but there definitely is a lot of room for improvement. The improvement should start with his shot mechanics; he has a slow release and his shot is essentially all arms rather than using his athleticism and legs. Brown was able to get away with playing bully ball in college but that won’t fly with majority of the NBA as they figure out how to game plan against him. If Brown can improve his shooting stroke and decision making on the offensive end, he can turn into a star.
Verdict: If Jaylen Brown is a Chrysler, Buddy Hield is a Bentley at this point. But yeah, Hield is light years ahead of Brown when it comes to the offensive end of the ball and it shows.
On the opposite side of the court, Hield uses his body and physicality well by playing his own brand of “never give up” defense. While his effort is admirable, he will be a liability defensively. In college, he was often slow to react (especially against point guards) and had difficulty staying in front of bigger or more athletic wings. Additionally, Hield had a tendency to either ball watch when he was playing off the ball and lose his opponent or over help and wind up leaving his opponent an open shot on the perimeter – a spot that is even less forgiving in the NBA.
Brown can turn into one of the top defenders in the league in a very short time. He already has the athleticism, strength and footwork to guard multiple positions as he displayed in his lone year in college by consistently guarding a team’s best player no matter the position. He is smart enough on defense to know when to slide into the post and front his opponent or to jump the passing lanes to get a steal. He does seem to have slow reactions to smaller, quicker guards and bites entirely too much on ball fakes. He can be attacked with a quick first step because of his open stance but has the long arms and big body to recover well. Another thing that shouldn’t be too much of a concern is that late in college’s 35-second shot clock, he seemed to lose focus on the play; the NBA’s 24-second shot clock should be present a positive transition.
Verdict: Jaylen Brown easily wins this category as a better defender both on the ball and off. He can step in and defend in the NBA right away and can develop into a top defender in the league with some experience.
Buddy Hield can get into the ring with Mike Tyson. Buddy Hield can swim across the Atlantic. Buddy Hield can make spider webs come out of his wrist…sorry, got carried away on that last one.
But, in reality, Hield put on performance after performance this season and did it in the middle of the spotlight. His work ethic has been described as legendary and he has even gotten multiple shoutouts for his effort and heart by the Black Mamba himself, Kobe Bryant. There are few players you would trust more than Buddy Hield in a must-win situation and that is what makes him so attractive as a prospect. To really see his work ethic, you need to take a look at his entire body of work through college. As a freshman, Hield averaged only 7.8 points. By sophomore year, he averaged 16.5 points and as a junior he put up 17.4 points. This past season his numbers sky rocketed to 25 points per game. Each year, Hield’s rebounds and assists per game were also raised while his minutes remained relatively the same. As a freshman, Hield shot only 33.8 percent from the field and 23.8 percent from three, those numbers were transformed to 50.1 percent (on 16 shots per game) and 45.7 percent (on nine threes per game), respectively. That’s how you “put it in work.”
Brown has a very different reputation about his motor. It isn’t that he’s considered difficult to coach or has a bad attitude but he is known to be very emotional; something that can be used as a positive but more often will be a negative for a young player. That can cause him to mentally check out of games and can create slumps and inconsistency. But then again, don’t forget that people had the same concerns about Andre Drummond coming out of college.
Verdict: There probably isn’t a single player in this draft who can beat Buddy Hield’s motor and toughness. Whoever takes Hield will get someone who can will incredible performances nightly; the kids got stones.
Potential and NBA Readiness:
The former Oklahoma star will be able to step in and score in bunches from day one given his shooting ability. He is also much older than most draftees and has shown that he can build on experience. He has gotten better each year as a player and a leader and should continue to do so in the NBA for a number of years. While he may not have the potential some of the younger players do, he has a very high floor and is one of the safest players in the draft this year.
Jaylen Brown’s potential has several NBA general managers salivating. He was blessed with an NBA body that can only get even more intimidating and has the defensive tools and readiness to be a contributing role player right away. If he can develop better focus, more refined offensive skills and a consistent jump shot, he has all-star potential. Don’t be too quick to categorize him, his game is still developing and he’s still only a teenager.
Verdict: Jaylen Brown is a high-risk, high-reward type of player. While he can be great, he can also turn into a liability if not developed well. I don’t see the same risk with Buddy Hield and I, as a gambling man, would put a few more chips on Hield’s high floor and and medium ceiling.
Rahul Lal is an LA native stuck in a lifelong, love-hate relationship with the Lakers, Dodgers and Raiders. You can follow him on Twitter here.