Breaking down Cal alumni in the NBA: Jaylen Brown, Ryan Anderson and Allen Crabbe

Yann Hufnagel, right, stands with Cal head basketball coach Cuonzo Martin
Ethan Epstein/File
Yann Hufnagel, right, stands with Cal head basketball coach Cuonzo Martin

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Jaylen Brown, Allen Crabbe, and Ryan Anderson are the three biggest alumni of the Cal men’s basketball team currently in the NBA. Statistically, it may be fair to say that Ryan Anderson has had the best season of the three, followed by Allen Crabbe and Jaylen Brown. Brown is the latest representative of Cal basketball in the NBA, and he will be the central focus of our analysis.

Brown entered the NBA with much promise as the No. 3 overall pick in his draft class, but averaged a meager 6.6 points per game during the regular season and 5.0 points per game during the playoffs. Yet while these statistics may not catch the eye, it is important to note that Brown also averaged 13.8 points per game per 36 minutes of play and he only played 17.2 minutes per game.

It would not be too far off to say that as Brown continues to earn more playing time, his production will continue to amplify. Also, in Brown’s defense, he entered the NBA without many having high hopes of a 3-point shot, and he exceed expectations in this category.

This is not to say that Brown will not make prodigious strides in his development. Brown’s season was replete with demonstrations of some impressive play, and considering he’s only 20 years old, he possesses great deal of time to realize all of his oozing potential once he reaches his zenith.

During Brown’s first encounter with Lebron James, he scored 19 points — a remarkable feat considering he matched up against an individual whom many regard as one of the greatest to ever play the game. Brown’s performance against James was just one instance among many which serves as a testament to his self-confidence, a critical characteristic in aiding an individual to unlock the gateway toward success.

Brown had the physical tools and athleticism heading into the league, and now equipped with the mental and emotional intangibles required to excel in basketball, he will soon flourish into a fearsome competitor. He understands that ball-handling is one of the areas in which he could use the most work and he has already made tremendous growth in his on-ball defense.

Ryan Anderson has had perhaps the best performance of all the Cal alumni this NBA season. He was one of the top four offensive players on the Houston Rockets, notching in 13.6 points per game.

Anderson fulfilled the “stretch four” role as the Rockets tended to utilize a run-and-gun offense similar to that of the Golden State Warriors. Many of Anderson’s points came from spot-up shooting.

It is important to consider that he was playing alongside James Harden during what may have been one of the most incredible individual seasonal performances in all of NBA history. Harden has the tendency of attacking the basket and then kicking the ball out to open shooters. In effect, Anderson benefitted substantially, as he was able to shoot 40.3 percent from the three-point line, the second highest three-point shooting percentage of his career. In addition, this past season, Anderson had the third-best true shooting percentage of his entire career. While Anderson did have many highs, it is worth mentioning that he also had the lowest player efficiency rating of his entire career (13.5) this last season.

Crabbe averaged 10.7 points per game this season which is disappointing as he recently signed a handsome four-year, $75 million contract with the Trailblazers during this past offseason. Crabbe’s defensive production was horrendous, mostly because of a lack of effort on his part.

Crabbe had the worst defensive rating on his team, and he had 1.3 Defensive Win Shares last season, which was not the worst on the team, but will not cut it for a player who should aim to fulfill if not surpass the high expectations that the Trailblazers had in him. Crabbe must definitely do some soul-searching and find the self-motivation to bring every ounce of his effort every time he steps out onto a basketball court

Ultimately, it becomes clear that Brown has the highest ceiling among these three Cal alumni. His athleticism, work ethic and drive far surpass those of both Crabbe and Anderson.

It will be such a pleasure to watch Brown blossom as the talented Boston Celtics team continues to develop into one of the great forces in the Eastern Conference and return to its former glory.

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