No, I'm not talking about number of games that Nets fans had hoped Brook Lopez and/or Deron Williams would play this year. I'm referring to the number of minutes Markel Brown has played so far during his rookie season. Prior to last Thursday's evisceration of the Nets at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers, Brown had played merely 49 minutes all season. Not to harp on the obvious, but that's an incredibly low amount of minutes.
But in last Thursday's nightmare, which will not be mentioned for the remainder of this article, Brown did get significant burn. He played 26 minutes, more than doubling his season minutes at the time, and scored eight points on 2-of-7 shooting, with three rebounds and one assist. Nothing in that stat line reaches out and grabs at you, but Brown avoided turning the ball over and played as well as a guard with 49 career minutes under his belt should be expected to. It's hard to evaluate Brown's play because he's gotten so little playing time, so he's pressing to promote his game in the limited opportunities he's had.
So is it time for Brown to see some more playing time? Probably. While Darius Morris hasn't necessarily played poorly, he also hasn't been especially impressive. Morris may be the more fundamentally sound player, and is the most experienced, but he lacks that athleticism and explosiveness that comes natural to Brown. As slow and athletically-challenged as the Nets are, they could use a guard whose vertical at the combine was one of the highest ever recorded, at 43.5". Even higher than Vince Carter's. He claims he once reached 46"!
Brown is raw, there's not doubt about that. He's also a second round pick, taken at No. 44. While it seems beyond hard to believe, the Nets are still fighting for a playoff spot, and it's hard to justify giving significant minutes to a player with as little experience as Brown has. Still, Brown's athletic prowess could be an adrenaline shot to Brooklyn's stale, stagnant offense, which currently sits at 25th in the league in offensive efficiency. Brown also can play defense, holding Andrew Wiggins to his season low last season, three points. And his life story, as chronicled by Tim Bontemps earlier this season, indicates a toughness.
A stint in the D-League would help Brown's development if the Nets wanted to give him some non-NBA minutes, but Brooklyn does not have its own affiliate in the league. He did have a brief, injury-shortened stint with the Maine Red Claws, but they are a Boston Celtic affiliate which means Brown played in a system which ran plays from the Celtic playbook, and on a roster where players from Boston had priority over the Brooklyn rookie. If Brooklyn had their own affiliate, Brown could be sent down to work on his game in a Brooklyn-sanctioned system, but that's not the case.
At the end of the day, Brown needs playing time at some level. By most accounts, Brown has impressed during practice, but a player can only develop so much in practice. They need real life game action. Sitting on the bench and watching this slow, rickety team play isn't helping Brown in any way.