Markel Brown always seemed like an afterthought during the first half of the season. After being selected 44th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, the rookie barely sniffed the hardwood, playing only 110 minutes in Brooklyn's first 53 games. Brown was all but forgotten.
That all changed on February 23. Needing some life, some athleticism, a boost, Lionel Hollins inserted Brown into the starting lineup for the first time in the rookie's career. Playing against the Denver Nuggets, Brown scored 10 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, thus recording his first career double-double, and blocked four shots in 45 minutes of play.
From that point on, Brown became a stalwart in the starting lineup. He provided elite athleticism, incredible quickness and stellar defense. Alongside Thaddeus Young, Brown infused some life into the Brooklyn lineup, something they so desperately needed. Brooklyn played quicker which led to easy baskets in transition. With this newly-found energy, the Nets snuck into the playoffs and avoided their potential lottery pick to fall into the hands of the Atlanta Hawks. Brown was a big reason for this.
Hollins eventually benched Brown in the playoffs (he played only 10 minutes in six games), but the shooting guard proved he was worth the purchased second round pick Brooklyn used to to select him.
|Minutes per game||16.6|
|True shooting percentage||45.9%|
|Win shares per 48||.031|
None of those numbers jump off the stat sheet, but Brown's statistics can't be judged in a vacuum. Brown's value to Brooklyn was more about the way he helped the Nets change to a much quicker and efficient style of play than any numbers he produced. Sure, his offensive numbers were underwhelming and his turnover rate could be better, but the adrenaline shot he provided certainly outweighs his pedestrian numbers. Those stats don't truly express Brown's value to the Nets.
Brown enters his sophomore season on a $845,059 non-guaranteed contract; however, he will start receiving guarantees on July 1 if he's still on the roster. He's set to earn $100,000 on July 1, and will earn more each succeeding month until he's fully guaranteed the day before Media Day. He will then become a restricted free agent after the 2015-2016 season. His qualifying offer is set at $1,180,431.
His first career start where he burst onto the scene and dropped a double-double certainly qualifies. It wasn't a perfect performance, but it showed Nets fans that maybe their team caught lightning in a bottle.
Diversify and clean up his offensive game. His athletic prowess is unquestionable and his defense was steady, but he struggled to efficiently make baskets. It seemed like most of his points came on breakaway dunks or some incredible feat of athleticism. He's got that covered, but when it comes to getting to the basket for a layup or simply draining an open jumper, he struggles. He'll have to work on that in the offseason. He can't simply rely on his hops forever.
Picking out the best highlight from Brown's season is like picking a favorite Beatles record; it's a fool's errand. That being the case, here are a few to marvel at:
IN THE FUTURE
Brown can become an important cog in the bench rotation. He probably won't become an All-Star, or even an everyday starter despite his 29 starts this year, but he can be a hyper-athlete that can score and play solid defense off the bench. Think of him as a Gerald Green-type who can actually stay in front of defenders.
There was a lot to be pleased with, but also a lot left to be desired. He's still raw and will need to put in a lot of work this offseason, but for the 44th overall pick, Brown showed he can have a role in the NBA.