It's a small sample, but an intriguing one. In the last five games, since February 1, Markel Brown has come off the bench and started to play like every Markel Brown fan has wanted him to.
Here are the numbers: Brown has had two of his three biggest scoring games since joining the Nets last season, 15 points in the loss to Philadelphia and 19, a career high, in the win over Denver. For the month, he's shooting 68.2 percent overall, 66.7 percent from three and 92.3 percent at the line. He's averaging 9.2 points in 15 minutes over the five games, 22 in the last two.
What's the difference? Some might think it's the addition of David Nurse, the Nets new shooting coach, but while some instruction might help, no shooting coach is going to make a difference in a week. It's about confidence and not having to look at the bench every time you make a mistake.
Brown alluded to that a bit in talking to Sarah Kustok post-game.
"I'm playing aggressive right now, playing with a lot of confidence," said Brown. "My teammates are in my ear . They're giving me the buzz to attack and play hard when I get out there on the court. So that's what I'm going to continue to do. They're doing a great job of finding me and getting me the open shots."
Tony Brown has given the 6'3" guard a longer tether. He's always shown some ability, mostly on defense, starting 29 games last season. But often times, he only lasted five minutes or so. Then, this season, Lionel Hollins seemed to forget about him. playing him only 19 minutes over a 10-game stretch from mid-December to early January.
It's taken a bit, but he's gotten longer runs from Brown lately than he did from Hollins. And Brown has some fans in high places. Mikhail Prokhorov listed Brown (twice!) as one of the team's "young, talented guys" in talking with Sarah Kustok the day after he dumped Hollins and reassigned Billy King.
What's the future hold for the Alexandria, Louisiana, native? The Nets are likely to play him, Chris McCullough, Bojan Bogdanovic and when he's ready, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a lot the rest of the season. He'll get his chance. Brooklyn does not hold any option, player or team, on Brown, but he will be a restricted free agent and the Nets will hold his Early Bird Rights. It could be an interesting decision for the next GM, whoever he is.