As the college basketball season looms, it's finally time for the Blue Zone to preview the 2022-23 Duke women's basketball roster. We previously looked at Bo Shaffer, Emma Schmidt, Jiselle Havas, Lee Volker, Imani Lewis, Emma Koabel, Vanessa de Jesus and Mia Heide. Next up is Kennedy Brown:
2021-22 statline: 24.7 MPG, 7.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.1 BPG (Oregon State)
Game breakdown: Kennedy Brown’s game is as straightforward as it gets: she’s a defensive center, an anchor big, a rim protector in drop coverage. Per CBB Analytics, opponents shot 2.9% worse at the rim when she was on the court last year, and her paint presence allowed Beaver guards to stick closer to shooters, as opponents shot 5.1% worse from three during her minutes.
With the big usually glued to the paint on both ends, Brown’s offensive talents mirror her defensive ones. Or do they?
“One of the advantages of both my size and skill set is that I can play with my back to the basket when that's an advantage for me, and I can also step out and knock down shots or facilitate at the high post/elbow area as well,” Brown said at Duke’s media day.
Brown certainly is a plus passer from the elbow for a big, a skillset that fits perfectly into head coach Kara Lawson’s Princeton-heavy offense. But her ability to score from outside has yet to manifest: per Synergy, Brown has made an average of fewer than two-thirds of a jump shot per game for her career.
Developing an offensive role away from the basket is key for Brown, who showed little ability to generate offense from the block in her time in Corvallis, Ore. She’s also rated out as an average finisher by both Synergy and Pivot Analysis, despite her 6-foot-6 frame. Combine those two things with her occasional struggles in post defense against very strong centers, and there’s still some rounding-out Brown needs at the margins.
Even if Brown doesn’t make those improvements, she’s still a quality role player. But if she can shore up her weak points, she could contend for more than a couple postseason awards.
Role on the team: Brown figures to be the team’s primary center, and that means a good amount of playing time is guaranteed. How well she plays in that role will determine whether she plays only 15-16 minutes a game, as Onome Akinbode-James did last year, or if she can play closer to 25 a night as she did at Oregon State. There’s not a lot of depth behind her, either; her backup is either Mia Heide or Duke’s likely starting four, Taya Corosdale. So expect Brown’s defense and high-post passing to have every opportunity to earn more minutes.
Projected stats: 18 MPG, 5.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.0 BPG
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