Bruce Brown: The Unsung Hero of Brooklyn

“Unfinished business,” Bruce Brown said as he explained his reason for staying with the Brooklyn Nets last summer. The former Detroit Piston got traded in a three-way deal and instantly became a fan favorite. Brown was known for his high-energy playing style and his active one-on-one defense.

2020-2021 Bruce Brown

Brown had a breakout season with the Brooklyn Nets last season as the Nets used Brown as a roller of James Harden’s pick and roll. This was proven to be effective. Brown averaged 8.8ppg on 55.6% shooting from the field. More so, Brown was also a crucial defender for the Nets in the postseason. During the semifinals, Brown’s primary assignment was guarding all-star Khris Middleton. Bruce Brown held Khris Middleton to 31.7% shooting, significantly lower than his season average.

Given Brown’s great season last year, it surprised me when Bruce Brown took the qualifying offer to remain with the Nets this upcoming season. Perhaps, the market wasn’t as strong for Brown since not every team can replicate the Nets gimmick. Regardless, Bruce Brown took the QO to be a crucial part of the Nets’ rotation.

The Slump

However, Brown initially struggled to replicate last year’s success. In his first 53 games of the season (pre-all star break), Brown was averaging 6.3/4.4/1.4 on 48% shooting. An insignificant drop-off from last year. Browns’ defense also regressed heavily because of the new NBA rule change, which resulted in him fouling more.

Brown became an odd man out in the rotation. With players like Deandre Bembry stepping up, Brown’s role diminished, and it appeared he would need to get cut mid-season to create a roster spot.

The Return To Glory

However, Bruce Brown’s story wasn’t just finished yet. Nets made a bold decision when they cut Bembry instead of Brown, signifying the confidence the organization has in him.

The confidence wasn’t misplaced. Brown instantly picked up his play since the all-star break. He’s been averaging 14.2/6/3.5 on 52.7% shooting from the field. Brown has solidified himself as a starter in the Nets rotation (at least temporarily) and was crucial in many of the Nets’ wins since then. More so, Brown’s defense also improved as he plays with more discipline and control.

So what changed? Essentially, Brown moved away from the short roll game and looked for other ways to score. He’s been very aggressive in attacking the offense in transition and has been hitting the corner 3 at a high rate. More so, he is also actively aggressive on the offensive glass.

Bruce Brown’s recent play has been a breath of fresh air for the Brooklyn Nets. On some nights, given Kyrie Irving’s unavailability, Brown stepped up as the Nets’ 2nd option.

The Unsung Hero

While it’s hard to determine what type of market is out there for Brown this upcoming summer, he has proven himself worthy of a long-term extension.

But in the larger scheme of things, Brown’s recent success with the Nets is very encouraging for a player like Ben Simmons. Simmons will essentially play the same way Brown is playing and has the same role. Except, he’s more polished on both ends of the floor. Regardless, I’d like to give Bruce Brown his props for stepping up for the Brooklyn Nets when they needed it at most.

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