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Jabari Brown Not Drafted, Heading for Rockets Summer Team

In a mild surprise, Jabari Brown was not drafted in the two rounds of the NBA Draft. He will try to make his way starting with the Houston Rockets' summer league team.

Jamie Squire

We all know and love what Jabari Brown did as a Missouri Tiger this past year. He carried the Tigers throughout most of the season. Now his future in professional basketball is uncertain. Brown was limited by the perception of a lack of agility and athleticism. What NBA front offices and coaches around the SEC know, Jabari can fill it. Brown's stock didn't move much since the end of the season. He was always kind of pegged as a mid-to-late 2nd round draft pick. The problem with a mid-late 2nd round pick is that it's really easy to fall out of the 2nd round, and there is nothing past the second round in the NBA.

Brown didn't have the great measurables that Jordan Clarkson had at the draft combine. He measured a bit shorter at 6'4, he doesn't handle the ball as well and certainly doesn't project as a Point Guard the way Clarkson does. His quickness is not quite where it needs to be to defend a lot of 2-guards in the NBA, and in that league the marginal players have to be able to defend somebody. He certainly will get looks for as long as his shooting stroke doesn't fail him.

We saw last year with Phil Pressey that sometimes not getting drafted is better than a late second round pick because you can get a survey of the field and pick your best spot. Phil was fortunate to go to Boston where there were giant roster holes and a need for a backup point guard. Brown has a lot of things that an NBA team can find value in. Notably he's as reliable of a shooter as there is, and he's strong in finishing at the basket. He's going to get a chance with the Houston Rockets this summer.

Starting out with the Rockets doesn't mean that he's going to end up with the Rockets. The Rockets could be a good place for Brown because James Harden could use a reliable backup and as little defense as Harden plays, Browns inadequacies in that area might be easy to overlook. Harden is obviously the superstar in Houston, but he's gotta sit at some point. Chandler Parsons is the starter at the small forward but there are some depth problems in Houston. They're one of a few teams trying to make a run at Carmelo Anthony. Possibly another good landing spot for him would be playing for his hometown Golden State Warriors. The Warrios are good at the guard position, with Klay Thompson and Stephon Curry, as far as the starters go. However they also have some depth issues behind those two. There were some rumblings about the Warriors being a good landing spot for Brown but nothing concrete has come out at all. He also had multiple auditions for the Nuggets and Hornets. We certainly hope for Brown that he finds a good landing spot and makes an impression in summer ball that keeps him on an NBA roster next season.

Brown is one of many underclassmen that declared for the NBA draft and were not picked up. Collegiate basketball and the NBA have a serious problem right now and it doesn't look likely to be fixed anytime soon. Far too many underclassmen are declaring for a draft in which one 30 spots get a guaranteed contract. It's a tough spot for a lot of players because coming back for school may not improve their stock anyway. 43 underclassmen declared for a draft in which there are only 60 players drafted. Again, 60 drafted, but only 30 get a guaranteed contract. In face many teams simply took an international player they hope develops instead of taking a college player because they can "stash" the international guy overseas and not have him count against the salary cap for 2-3 years.

Would Brown have been better served coming back for another season? Perhaps. He might have been able to score 20 points a game again, worked on his ball handling, developed as a more reliable defender. Maybe an All-American type of season coupled with leading Mizzou back to the NCAA tournament would have benefitted his stock some.

I personally feel that the NBA should move the draft up to immediately after the college season. Baseball does it this way and it works. The NBA teams could draft players who haven't even declared. No more declaring. If you are drafted, you get to choose if you are leaving or not. If you don't leave, that team retains your rights for the next two years. If you are a freshman, you can stay in school for 3 years and re-enter the draft... just like baseball. A scenario like this would greatly help the influx of players leaving too soon, help bolster the college game, and help college basketball coaches assist their players in the best path for their players while not being hurt on their scholarship count. I don't know, it's an idea.