When it comes to draft prospects, I'm an all-in kind of guy. If I'm backing someone, there's nothing that's going to stop me from thinking he's the greatest player on earth. I see my man on the court for the first time and love what I see, it's Vin Diesel/Paul Walker "Ride or Die" from there on out. You may recognize me from such classic d-riding (draft-prospect riding, you pervs) extravaganzas as Paul George and Willie Warren. One of those was vindicated. The other one just hasn't had enough time to bloom quite yet (still believe in you, Willie). It's been a few years since I've had an unconditional love affair on (I repeat, on, not with) an 18-22 year old male. Luckily Markel Brown was around to reignite the fire.
The first time I really invested any time into the Markel Brown deep end, I was hanging out in Los Angeles with one Michael Levin. Is that a name drop? If you want it to be. Like any other early to mid 20s single males do in one of the best looking cities in the country, we fired up the YouTubes to watch some of the more lesser known, yet freakishly athletic basketballers in the NCAA. One Paddy Kang, guest author of the Nick Johnson PYP from a few days ago, typed in the name "Markel Brown" in the search bar and it was over from there.
The most popular of clips out on the internets concerning Markel is from his sophomore season against the second ranked, Kim English lead Mizzou Tigers. When an athlete goes baseline and rises above the rim that high for a one-handed, cock-back oop, you immediately start researching on Google and creeping on his Facebook page. Oh look, one of his favorite movies is 27 Dresses. And he recently checked in at Starbucks. I see right through that, Markel. Scoping out the college girls.
We're all educated basketball fans. We know it takes more than a vertical leap to make it in this league. But I'd be a liar if I said I didn't immediately gravitate towards prospects at the top of the leaping charts. For inquiring minds, Markel registered a 43.5" vertical at the draft combine. Hair flip emoji.
A four-year player at Oklahoma State, Brown did exactly what you'd like to see in a prospect; constant improvement. He wasn't one of those guys with high expectations but plateaued somewhere around his junior year (i.e. Mike Jones - Maryland, stand up). Brown wasn't exactly thought of as a perimeter player coming into college, but was able to post a friendly 38% from beyond the arc his senior season. Just another day at the office. Could you wire those retiree medical claims? Thanks, Markel.
Where Brown can really excel on the offensive end is finishing at the cup. While his lack of a great first step and ability to beat defenders off the dribble limited his attempts that close, Markel converted on 66% of those field goals his senior season. If he wasn't able to create close range shots for himself at the collegiate level, chances are he won't be able to do it in the league. That's certainly not a positive, but if his teammates are able to set him up to get the ball near the bucket, that skill could certainly make him stick out from the rest of the second round picks next week.
On the other side of the ball, Markel has the athleticism and length to become a solid NBA defender. Unfortunately he doesn't put those advantages to great use and was many times caught being lazy against the opposition while at Oklahoma State. With the right tools, defense is mostly effort at this point. If Brown can come into the league with the right mentality and get the proper motivation to be a factor on the defensive end, he could be one of the better steals of the upcoming draft.
I've consistently had Markel in my top 15 for the LB Big Boards we've been generating the past couple months. When I see athleticism like that along with tangible skills that he's been improving over the last four years, I see something that could blossom into a valuable asset for an NBA organization. And lesbehonest, who doesn't want to see him throw down the type of dunks we haven't seen since Andre Iguodala was in town?
As of this moment, the DraftExpress mock has my love going at pick 54 to..... your Philadelphia 76ers. Pencil it in. Get all your bets in for a Sixer to rightfully win a dunk contest at All-Star Weekend. Might as well even parlay it with Hollis Thompson winning the three-point shootout.
Markel Brown, consider the pipe laid.
Trigga Trey Tanner's PYP Runner-Up: Patric Young