Leaving behind the NBA Finals and heading into the NBA Draft, lots of teams are trying to find the next Danny Green.
Who is that guy who could fall into the second round, who might be off the radar and on the cheap but who could develop into a good shooter and solid defender?
Here’s a name — Markel Brown.
Maybe Green’s success in San Antonio’s run to the NBA title is one of the reasons that Brown has been busy in these weeks leading up to the NBA Draft. The Oklahoma State alum has worked out for numerous teams, including Boston, Charlotte, Toronto and Utah, and yet, most draft pundits and prognosticators believe he’s a second-round pick at best.
Nothing wrong with that. Green wasn’t taken until the middle of the second round.
And frankly, if Brown went in the second round, it would just be one more similarity that these two have.
Green was largely unheralded his first two college seasons, but over his last couple years at North Carolina, his improvement was obvious. He was a better scorer, rebounder, shooter and ball handler. Year to year, he improved in pretty much every statistical category.
The same can be said of Brown.
His year-to-year improvement has been well-documented in these parts, and yet, it’s still darn impressive that he bumped up his averages each and every season at OSU. Points. Assists. Shooting percentage. Three-point percentage. Assist-to-turnover ratio. The only major statistical category that didn’t see a rise each and every season was rebounding, but even that more than doubled from his freshman season to his senior season.
So, Brown became a better scorer, rebounder, shooter and ball handler.
Listen, there’s no way to know if Brown is heading down Danny Green Way, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
For starters, Brown is freakishly athletic. Everyone has seen his dunking prowess; ESPN practically gave him his own segment on SportsCenter every time he threw one down his last couple seasons at OSU. His dunks were must-see TV.
But lest you think that was a case of Brown just being a step above other collegians, he went out and had one of the highest vertical jumps in draft combine history. His mark of 43.5 inches not only tied for the best at this year’s combine but also tied for third best since 2000.
Think of all the amazing athletes that have come through the combine over that time, and yet few have been any better leapers than Brown.
That kind of athleticism could help him compensate for shortcomings. Brown, for example, is 6-foot-3 and a bit undersized to play shooting guard in the NBA. But having impact on the defensive end is not about having height.
Just ask Tony Allen.
He’s another former Cowboy who plays shooting guard in the NBA, and even though he’s only 6-4, he’s been one of the NBA’s most ferocious perimeter defenders over the past five years. He can guard smaller guys because of his agility. He can guard taller guys because of his long arms. And regardless of who he’s guarding, he’s willing to bust his butt when he’s on the court.
Brown ticks many of the same boxes.
Being a solid on-ball defender seems like the niche where Brown could earn his keep in the NBA, but don’t rule out the possibility of him becoming a good shooter, too. He’s improved his outside shooting every year that he was at OSU — and it was fairly dramatic. He shot a little over 26 percent from behind the 3-point line as a freshman. As a senior, he shot 37.9 percent.
His 3-point shot became a strength. More than a third of the shots that he took as a senior were from behind the arch, so he was shooting more threes and making more of them by the end of his college career.
Ditto for Green.
The Spurs shooting guard didn’t become a San Antonio starter, much less a San Antonio star overnight. He was drafted, then cut by the Cavaliers. He was signed, then cut by the Spurs. He was re-signed by the Spurs, then sent to the D-League, then brought back to languish on the bench before finally working his way into the rotation. Now, he’s an NBA champ and an Alamo City hero.
From the middle of the second round, Danny Green made it.
Could Markel Brown?
It’s a big jump, but then, we’ve seen just how well this guy can fly.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.