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Mizzou Hoops Player Preview: Kaleb Brown

After a brief dalliance with the transfer portal this spring, Kaleb Brown returns to seek out his own legacy at Mizzou.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

In the weeks leading up to the season, this series will dive deep into the players we see making a push for time in the rotation for the 2022-2023 Missouri basketball squad. Some installments might be more in-depth than others, if only because of the data and film available. In addition, evaluating players with multiple years of experience is more straightforward than younger peers.

The pieces read like a birds-eye scouting report. They skew more toward the offensive end of the court for two reasons. First, a player’s offensive metrics are more reliable than defensive data and less team-dependent. Second, it’s considerably easier to describe a player’s qualities with more well-known offensive statistics. As always, we encourage interaction from our readers. Please drop us a comment or find me on Twitter @DataMizzou.

The Player

Kaleb Brown is now the elder statesman of the Mizzou Basketball Program. With turnover the name of the game in college basketball, Kaleb will represent the longest tenured Tiger on the roster. This was not always assumed to be the case, however. This spring Kaleb entered the transfer portal during his brother Kobe’s workouts with NBA franchises. After several weeks he announced his decision to return. The Brown legacy continues!

The native of Huntsville, Alabama won the Class 5A State Player of the Year award his senior year at Lee High School. As a freshman under coach Cuonzo Martin, Kaleb saw action in 27 games, and by the end of the season, he accounted for the eighth-highest minute share on the roster. In year two, he saw those numbers slip to 11 appearances and the twelfth-highest minute share.

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Numbers

Kaleb Brown | 6’7” | Combo Guard

Kaleb Brown Team Min % Ortg Usage eFG% or% dr% ast% stl% to% ftr% ft% 2pt% 3pt%
Kaleb Brown Team Min % Ortg Usage eFG% or% dr% ast% stl% to% ftr% ft% 2pt% 3pt%
2023 Miz 6.1 69 11.1 50 1.4 4.1 10.7 4 48 0 0 75 20
2022 Miz 20 64.1 13 35.7 2.3 15.6 20.9 2.1 42.9 32.1 22.2 28.6 28.6
Career All - 65.3 12.5 39.2 2.1 12.7 18.3 2.6 44.2 24.1 22.2 38.9 26.3

Unlike most experienced players on this year’s roster, we simply don’t have much to go on statistically speaking. On the one hand, if Kaleb’s prior numbers are indicative of his role on the 23-24 squad, it will be very limited. On the other hand, if Kaleb emerges as a significant contributor, his prior years of data give us little hint as to how it may unfold.

To understand his strengths and weaknesses, film review is the better place to start. Kaleb’s passing ability is well above average. He sees the floor well and has shown the ability to deliver an accurate ball on time. Now listed as 6’7”, he can also survey over the top of the defense, providing a relatively unique skill set. While he hasn’t run a ton of pick-and-rolls, he grades out well at 0.973 points per possession when including passes on his career, per Synergy data. That size also comes in handy on the glass, where he had a 15.6 defensive rebounding percentage as a freshman before seeing that figure drop off as a sophomore. Moving the ball and limiting second possessions aren’t fancy, but those qualities provide a solid template to work from.

On the other side of the ledger, Kaleb’s jump shot hasn’t given us much to work with regarding projectability. It’s an unorthodox release. That alone isn’t always a negative — if it’s repeatable. His ability to solidify the jumper in his arsenal will be essential. His ball security was sometimes lacking but struck me more as inexperience than a skill deficit. Being thrust into the primary ballhandler role when defenses knew the team struggled in that area was not an enviable position. Nonetheless, there’s something to work with there. Rounding that out will also be a big part of his success.

Rummaging around the film trove turned up a whopping four clips of Brown on offense, and two of them were turnovers. But even if we had did have every one of his 17 offensive possessions on tape, that sample is too small to draw any conclusions. We’ve also covered why Brown evaporated from the rotation after a soft opening slate last season.

In lieu of dissecting film here, let’s explore how likely it is Kaleb sees a major role expansion. Last season, Kaleb only played 6.8 percent of minutes. Over the past decade, there were 168 players whose floor time amounted to less than 10 percent of minutes. How many stuck around for another season? Only 41.7 percent.

Next, let’s look at what that group of returners did the following season.

Benchwarmer Benchmarks | SEC | 2015-2023

Category Average (SD) Median Range
Category Average (SD) Median Range
Seasons 2.6 (0.8) 2 1.6-2.8
Percentage of Minutes 14.5 (15.5) 7.9 -1.0-30.1
Offensive Rating 88.6 (37) 95 51.6-125.6
Percentage of Poss. 15.2 (5.9) 14.6 9.3-21.1
N=70 Source Data:

Let’s say Brown compiles a median season as junior. In that event, he’d see a modest bump in playing time to 7.5 percent of minutes, accompanied by slightly increased usage and gains in efficiency. I’m not sure averaging three minutes game would strike most as a dramatic change in the junior’s fortunes.

Now, if Brown winds up closer to the average for minutes (14.5%), usage (15.2%) and efficiency (88.6), that might qualify. Yet the closest comp in recent Mizzou history would be Torrence Watson’s junior campaign, where the wing averaged 1.8 points and 0.6 rebounds in seven minutes per game.

Even when we focus on juniors, the picture doesn’t change all that much. Any veteran that goes from a benchwarmer to more than 13 minutes per game is an outlier. Moreover, those modest minutes allocations wind up creating wide swings in usage and efficiency.

Benchwarmer Benchmarks | Juniors | SEC | 2015-2023

Category Average (SD) Median Range
Category Average (SD) Median Range
Percentage of Minutes 14.6 (18.9) 6 -4.3-33.5
Offensive Rating 99.8 (39.7) 105.2 60.1-139.5
Percentage of Poss. 14.8 (6.1) 14.4 0.4-29.2
N=20 Data Source:

As it stands, an expectation of a back end of the rotation player is fair. With it comes a minutes load of under 10% of minutes played and a low usage rate as he’s carried in years past. If improvement occurs and a role adjustment is realized, Kaleb has the template to be a viable contributor. In either event, there will be times when he’s called upon and expected to contribute. We saw that even last season in Mizzou’s victory at Ole Miss. Depth is the name of the game with this roster and Kaleb will have every opportunity to be a part of it.

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana State at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Role

As we wrote a year ago, how much time Kaleb sees will be dependent upon the progression he made in the offseason. A year ago, he was fighting for minutes behind multiple experience guards. Fast forward to this season and the dynamic is the same. What can he offer as a separator?

With his size being more closely that of a forward, it may be a situation where Kaleb is asked to be more of a playmaking forward in this offense versus a backcourt player. Similar to his brother Kobe, Kaleb does possess the requisite abilities of reading the floor, dribbling well at that size combined his above grade passing skill. Should an adjustment in role occur, I could see his responsibilities expand. He would likely be competing for minutes against Noah Carter and Jesus Carralero Martin in that capacity, but the path to playing time is less crowded than it would be otherwise. While the shot mechanics are unusual, the same critique was leveled on Kobe. If he can find consistency there, the dynamic may shift enough for him to move up the food chain.

PPP: Points Per Possession
Min %: This is simply the percentage of minutes played by a given player.
Usage %: A measure of personal possessions used while player is on the court. This includes making a shot, missing a shot coupled with a defensive rebound and a turnover.
eFG%: Same as traditional FG% with the added bonus of 3-point shots given 50% more weight to account for additional point.
OR%: The percentage of possible offensive rebounds a player gets.
DR%: The percentage of possible defensive rebounds a player gets.
AST%: Assists divided by field goals made by player’s teammates while on the court.
TO%: The percentage of personal possessions a player uses on turnovers.
FTR%: A rate which measures a player’s ability to get to the free throw line.
FT%: Free Throw shooting percentage.
2PT%: 2-point field goal percentage.
3PT% 3-point field goal percentage.