Jabari Brown was a late addition to the Los Angeles Lakers' roster last season, playing his first game with the team in March. He logged a total of 19 games before the season came to an end. During that stretch he shot 37.1 percent from three-point range, earning himself a new contract to stick with the Lakers a bit longer.
His clear tangible talent, for now, is his three-point shooting. That the Lakers have struggled to find any consistent shooting for years has made him a sensible player to hold on to. Summer League was more of the same from Jabari, who scored a team-high 17.7 points per game through three games while shooting 38.9 percent from outside.
"I'm just trying to improve every game, just show that what I did at the end of the year wasn't a fluke," Brown said following his 19-point outing against the Dallas Mavericks. If his shooting numbers pan out over a larger sample size, Jabari might be a solid rotation option in the wings for the Lakers as he continues to develop. He's only 22, has good size for a shooting guard, and is an affordable prospect. Best, his shooting makes him a great fit with the Lakers' core.
Both of the Lakers' lottery picks need players who can spot up on the outside. Julius Randle's drive-and-kick game is one of the things that makes him such an versatile player:
And D'Angelo Russell is going to carve a path to open shooters on the perimeter in ways that will wow:
If Jabari can focus on becoming a dependable outlet within the Lakers' offense like he is in the above examples, the front office will have successfully mined two talented prospects out of Mizzou in a single swoop. He shot 41 percent from deep in his sophomore season with the Tigers, and that was on 5.6 attempts per game. One of his strengths coming out of college was his shooting from the right wing. Brown's touch showed signs of translating before he was called up to the Lakers, as well. He shot 39.2 percent from three-point range in 39 games played with the Los Angeles D-Fenders.
Brown has the potential to be deadly from the corner, which is one of the reasons beyond his great relationship with Jordan Clarkson that made him an interesting prospect for the Lakers to work with. He said he's always working on his three-point shot when asked about how important it is to work on that part of his game, but also has been working to improve his ball-handling.
Jabari was aggressive with the ball in his hands, but showed severe tunnel vision. It looked like he was trying to do too much, playing outside of his comfort zone at the next level. If there's a place to kick the tires of your game it's Summer League, but it didn't bode well for Brown. Here's one of the many examples of this on display:
Yes, that's D'Angelo alone on the wing. No, it didn''t end well:
Ultimately, what matters for Jabari Brown is finding where he fits in the NBA. Right now, his best bet is to prove he's a knockdown shooter before he reaches the non-guaranteed portion of his contract heading into the '15-16 season. He's not on the verge of turning the corner as a ball-handling wing, and the Lakers already have playmaking talent in both Randle and Russell, while Kobe has traditionally taken on the lead facilitator role for LA.
Maybe Brown doesn't mold himself into a player who finds his way in the league after being passed over, but the Lakers are in search of players who can finish catch-and-shoot opportunities, and he's as good a possibility to standout in that role as any other wing on the roster at this point.
The Lakers need a specialist from three-point range, and Jabari has shown signs of developing into that kind of guy. There were plenty of nice passes from both Russell and Randle all Summer League, but they seemed to rarely turn into assists. Brown could make the most of a second chance with the Lakers if the coaching staff helps him identify the niche he fills as an off-the-bench role player, and he continues working hard at perfecting his craft.