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Mizzou Hoops Player Review: Kaleb Brown

Kobe’s little brother still struggles to get out from under his big brother’s shadow.

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

It’s often difficult to write a full review of a player who was used as little this past season as Kaleb Brown.

There were short periods where it looked like Kaleb might crack into a more regular rotational role, but each time it was short-lived. The younger brother of the All-SEC forward we reviewed on Monday, Kaleb Brown just hasn’t made his dent in the rotation. He saw action in 6 of the first 7 games, but once the Tigers hit the meat of the schedule with a road trip to Wichita State, Brown saw no action over the next 12 games. He made just five more appearances the rest of the season with the apex coming in the blowout at Auburn when he played the bulk of the final 10 minutes.

In fact, after playing 20% of the minutes as a freshman, Brown played just 6.1% of them this season. And in nearly every category his production when he was on the floor fell. With so little film available, it’s tough to really gauge the level of growth and development Kaleb has experienced over the last two years. He played a decent amount down the stretch for a bad team a year ago, and then was mostly parked on a good team this year.

By the numbers

Kaleb Brown | By The Numbers

Games Starts %Min ORtg Usage%
Games Starts %Min ORtg Usage%
11 0 6.1 66.3 10.9
7.8 0.8 0.4 0.5 0.5
  • 48.8% Turnover Rate

If there’s one place you can put the blame on why Kaleb struggles to see the floor it’s because he isn’t able to take care of the ball enough. With Dennis Gates, he wants his guards to take care of the ball and hit threes. And Brown hasn’t been able to do either of those things with any regularity. His turnover rate was just as bad as a freshman, which might indicate it’s a bit of a problem overall.

Kaleb Brown | On/Off Splits | 2022-23

Status Poss Margin Off. PPP Def. PPP Net Rating eFG% ORB% FT Rate TOV% PPS - RIM PPS - Mid PPP - 3FGA
Status Poss Margin Off. PPP Def. PPP Net Rating eFG% ORB% FT Rate TOV% PPS - RIM PPS - Mid PPP - 3FGA
On 152 19 112.5 100 12.5 54.8 37.1 17 18.7 1.32 0.31 0.98
Off 2194 139 118.1 111.76 6.33 55 25.7 22.4 13.9 1.17 0.83 1.08
Pivot Analysis

A soft opening to MU’s season offered Brown the opportunity to audition for a place in the Tigers’ bench unit. Gates allotted him 100 possessions over MU’s first seven games, and the overwhelming majority of them came with games still in the balance. While Brown wasn’t a drag on those rotations, which had a 7.6 net rating, he didn’t play cleanly enough to warrant a steady dosage once the caliber of opponent ramped up.

During SEC play, Brown only logged 46 possessions of floor time, per Pivot Analysis. The bulk of them came once Auburn had opened up a comfortable margin in a rout on The Plains. Aside from that trip, Brown’s only other extended action was a road loss at Mississippi State.

The data itself is almost inconsequential. What’s telling is that Brown saw his minutes shrink to the point that he almost fell off MU’s team page at KenPom.

Kaleb Brown | Top-5 Lineups | 2022-23

PG CG Wing Wing/CF CF/Post Poss Margin Off. PPP Def. PPP Net
PG CG Wing Wing/CF CF/Post Poss Margin Off. PPP Def. PPP Net
Honor East Mosley Brown, Ka. Brown, Ko. 9 5 134.12 78.83 55.88
East Brown, Ka. Hodge Brown, Ko. Carter 7 -3 119.04 163.69 -44.65
East Brown, Ka. Mosley Brown, Ko. Carter 6 8 228.57 97.96 130.61
East Brown, Ka. Gholston Shaw Diarra 6 -3 92.45 138.68 -46.23
Honor Brown, Ka. Gholston Brown, Ko. Diarra 6 -1 81.63 97.96 -16.33
Pivot Analysis

Kaleb did spend time in some of Mizzou’s funkier lineup configurations, but those tinkering sessions make up a relatively small portion of his floor time.

When Gates did call on Brown, he was often paired with Sean East II, D’Moi Hodge, and Noah Carter. And he spent more than 34 minutes playing alongside Kobe. So, there were chances to see how he’d fit in with the rotation’s stalwarts. But outside one quintet, which had a microburst against HCU, the returns were decidedly mixed.

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

Based upon the style of play, there was likely a sound enough path to where Kaleb Brown could make sense at Missouri. But that was under Cuonzo Martin, who preferred bigger, more physical guards. And at 6’7” and 250 pounds, it's easy to see how Kaleb’s physical stature would be attractive if you’re playing controlled defense and ball control on offense. He sees the floor well and has the requisite touch to be a good passer. But Gates doesn’t seem to value any specific physical traits in his guards, just basketball traits. He wants the ball valued, and wants guys who can make threes. These are just two things that Brown has yet to show he can do consistently enough to crack the lineup.

It’s likely next season will plug Brown in a similar role as Dennis Gates has already added multiple players who play the same position and did so in larger roles on good teams. With Nick Honor and Sean East returning, plus John Tonje and Tamar Bates coming in, the path forward here is limited.

In order for Kaleb to see the floor at Missouri next season he’s going to need to accomplish a multitude of things this offseason. He’s going to need to become both a reliable ball handler and become a better three-point shooter. His brother went from shooting 21% on season to shooting 45.5% the next, so the growth is possible. If you can trust Kaleb to by physical on defense, and space the floor on offense he can fill in a role as a guy who can play nearly all five positions on the floor. I’m not sure Kaleb needs more time in the weight room; his issue isn’t with strength or power. But improving his agility and lateral quickness would go a ways.

The shooting component would help as much as the ball security. Like his brother, Kaleb is big and strong enough to be able to play more interior positions. So if he were able to reliably stretch the floor (work on those corner 3s, kid) you can see how he could find some minutes on the floor. Either way, it’s going to take a lot of work this offseason.