Barry Brown is a 6’3” combo guard for the Kansas State Wildcats and is one of the best perimeter defenders in the country. After testing the 2018 NBA Draft waters and working out with the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, Brown opted to return to Manhattan for his senior season. The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Conference Selection is a defensive advanced-metric stud, posting career-bests in DBPM, Defensive Rating, and Defensive Win Shares. After leading the Wildcats to a share of the Big 12 regular season conference title, Brown will look to build upon his rock-solid defensive foundation and prove to NBA evaluators that he can bring value on both sides of the ball throughout his final NCAA Tournament run.
Tale of the Tape
Brown is an absolute terror of an on-ball defender, arguably the best in the country. He is consistently sitting down in an fundamental, wide-based defensive stance, has the physicality and will to fight through ball screens, and is elite at opening his hips and recovering following the rare instances that his main gains any sort of advantage. All of these elements of sound defensive technique and effort are escalated by the functionality of Brown’s athleticism, length, reflexes, and deceptive strength.
Brown ranks in the 94th percentile in defensive possessions that end with him on the ball by surrendering only 0.651 PPP and forcing his match-up into a turnover on 21.4% of such possessions. These numbers are particularly impressive given the fact that Brown is typically tasked with guarding the opposition’s most viable perimeter scoring threat.
Not only does Brown do an excellent job of keeping his man in front of him in open space (94th percentile as an isolation defender), but he is one of the best guards in the country at sticking with his man through physical screens and other offensive actions meant to spur separation between Brown and his man. Brown ranks in the 90th +% percentile in defending pick-and-roll handlers, hand-off actions, and off-screen scorers. This defensive versatility and consistency as an on-ball defender is a testament to Brown’s effort level, engagement, defensive IQ, and willingness to do the little things that make a tangible difference in forcing more difficult looks for the opposition.
While Brown is known for his on-ball defensive prowess, he is also a high-caliber off-ball team defender. While plenty of his steals come from picking pockets as an on-ball defender, Brown regularly makes anticipatory reads of passing lanes to force deflections, turnovers, and offensive disarray for the opposition. He rarely gets caught ball-watching, keeps his head on a swivel, typically maintains an appropriate balance of help side deterrence while maintaining a reasonable closeout radius (though gets caught gambling from time to time), and simply knows where to be in the context of team defensive schematics.
Brown’s defensive versatility and well-rounded competency provide a solid foundation for Brown’s potential translatability to the next level.
In the clip below, we highlight Brown’s defensive activity and knack for disrupting the opposition’s offensive game flow.
Brown’s defensive activity highlighted above often catalyzes transition opportunities for the Wildcats. His explosiveness and burst help him quickly turn defense into offense when he parlays a forced turnover into a fast break opportunity.
After getting a steal or deflection as noted above or simply receiving an outlet pass from a rebounding teammate, Brown quickly flips his hips and gets his momentum going as a transition initiator leading the break. Though not the most dynamic facilitator, Brown constantly has his eyes up in transition, surveying the floor for open trailing shooters or rim divers. Brown isn’t particularly flashy on the break, but rather opts for the simple, low risk, reads with a high probability of a positive outcome.
Below, we highlight Brown’s ability to find teammates in the open court.
Despite Brown’s relatively low volume of transition assists, this skill could very well be projectable to the next level given the NBA’s recent notable uptick in pace. As a prospect that thrives on creating defensive chaos, he could very well turn that defensive impact into a higher volume of quality looks for others while surrounded by professional teammates in the context of an up-tempo league.
While there are few holes in Brown’s defensive projectability, he will need to continue to work on fine tuning his offensive game to bolster his overall prospect profile. He has shown some flashes of functional use of explosiveness and length extension when getting to the rim offensively, but would greatly benefit from tightening up his upper body shooting mechanics to become a more consistent shooter and working on developing the dynamism of his handle.
Despite facing a low likelihood of being drafted, Brown projects as a surefire recipient of a Summer League roster spot and will likely have his choice of beginning his professional career in the G League or in Europe. Given his firmly established defensive projectability, if he can make significant progress in his most essential areas of improvement, an eventual shot at the NBA is certainly not out of the question.
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