Scorpions Stunner: Mehdy Brown to Las Vegas with 5th Overall Pick
- By Michael Miller, Day 1, 2022
LAS VEGAS - In a stunning move, the Las Vegas Scorpions have selected sophomore PG Mehdy Brown from Kentucky with the 5th overall selection in the JBL Rookie Draft, passing up other prospects considered to have more elite potential. "This is an economic move as much as a talent move", stated Scorpions General Manager Michael Miller. "Our core of Lamar Francis, Derrick Griffin and Omar Grant is strong, but they are also getting expensive and it is imperative that we find creative, low cost solutions for the other openings on our roster".
Most experts prior to draft expected the Scorpions to draft C/PF DeAndre Stackhouse or C Treyvon Miller with the 5th overall selection. Although Las Vegas has one of the best big men in the game in C/PF Omar Grant, the Scorpions currently have no player or propsect to play power forward and nothing in the way of depth since center Vlado Dvoracek was traded to Mexico City at the start of the offseason. While Scorpions management blieves both Stackhouse and Miller to be great prospects, it was believed that both may struggle at power forward as not their natural positions.
Meanwhile, point guard has remained an open question for the team since Michael Miller took over the team last year. Citing the need for a point guard able to run a high-octane offense, Las Vegas aggressively pursued and signed point guard Devante Parker away from the rival Seattle Thunder in the 2021 offseason. While Parker played well as a starter, Las Vegas soon began to have concerns about paying him over $16 million per year into his early 30's. As such, the Scorpions were able to trade him to the Philadelphia Warriors for point guard Tyler Davis before the trading deadline. Again, while Davis played well as a starter, financial concerns again arose because Davis was in a contract year. Management sources believe that other teams, flush with cash from the recent expansion entries, were likely to bid Davis up to the maximum contract available during the free agency open bidding process.
While the Scorpions liked the long-term fit of Davis for the point guard position, it was also believed that fielding a competitive team with 4 players making $20 million dollars or more per year would be impossible. As such, Las Vegas spent much of the regular season and offseason researching its point guard options in the upcoming draft. It is no secret that, when Las Vegas dealt its 2023 1st round pick, the Rockets 2023 1st round pick and the Fireballs 2024 1st round pick to the Baltimore Bullets for the Oakland Triton's 1st round pick, that the target was small forward Victor Olejakpoke from Villanova. What is now being revealed, however, was that the soft target for the Scorpions at that time was point guard Deleon Slay from Memphis. Indeed, it appears that Slay was the backup option for the Scorpions if they did not win the lottery to draft Poke.
As the CJBL season continued, however, Brown grew on the Scorpions' radar. Las Vegas, demanding athleticism from all its players, found Brown to be the athletic equal of Slay and perhaps better suited to run an up-tempo offense on the open floor. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Brown signed with Kentucky after a stellar senior year as starting point guard for Midwood High School, averaging 20.7 points and 13.5 assists per game. As a freshman, Brown put up solid numbers of 13.1 points, 5.3 assists, 0.97 steals and only 1.59 turnovers per game, leading the Wildcats to the Sweet 16 in the CJBL Tournament. In their 74-64 loss to Duke, Brown put up a strong 19 points and was the second best player on the floor according to Game Score, only behind Duke's Ty Kriener.
In his sophomore year, Brown hit another level in his efficiency, leading all CJBL point guards in Player Efficiency Rating, having an ungodly .715% true shooting percentage and a whopping .554% from behind the arc. Brown also cut his turnovers nearly in half, to 0.87 per game. His performance assisted Kentucky as they went all the way to the CJBL Final Four, losing in the National Semifinals. Meanwhile, Slay slid as his Memphis Tigers flamed out early in the CJBL Tournament. Additionally, Brown eventually surpassed Slay on the Scorpions draft board because Brown's ability to shoot from beyond the arc was more likely to spread the floor than Slay, who hit less than .250 from the three point land. Moreover, while Slay is considered to have significant defensive upside because of his 6'8" height and 7'1" wingspan, there is an open question why he did not dominate the CJBL when his measurables are so much better than other players.
While Slay is considered to have boom or bust potential, Brown is believed to be a safer prospect. "We feel comfortable we know what we are getting with Brown, he is athletic and appears to have the ability to step in right away with the excellent players on our team", said Miller. As the 5th overall pick, the Scorpions will have team control over Brown for 4 years at $3.9 million per season. While Davis is considered the better player, the team's calculus was that Brown at $3.9 million per year was a better option than Davis at $28 million over the long term.
Nevertheless, that does not mean the Scorpions will have no say in Davis's future. According to internal team sources, Las Vegas has agreed to sign and trade Davis to the Pittsburgh Vipers during the free agency period. It is anticipated that Las Vegas will offer Davis the maximum contract available, and that he will likely sign his 5 year, $140 million dollar contract when the signing moratorium is lifted.
All told, the Scorpions believe they have cemented their point guard of the present and future and they are excited to see him on the Court next to Francis, Griffin and Grant.