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Bruce Brown is here to prove something: “I bring a dog mentality”

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NBA: Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

“I just come in and bring a dog mentality on the defensive end.”

This was Bruce Brown’s opening line as a Brooklyn Net... His introductory mission statement, if you will, for what to expect from the former second-round pick as we inch closer to the 2020-2021 season.

Here’s the full quote:

“That’s definitely going to be my role, I feel. Scoring-wise, that’s (Kevin Durant), Kyrie (Irving), we’ve got Caris (LeVert), Joe (Harris). I think I just come in and bring a dog mentality on the defensive end and match up with the best offensive player every night.”

There’s something commendable about understanding your role before even stepping into training camp in a brand new city. Sure, the 24-year-old earned his stripes and established his footing as a defensive specialist thus far in his short career. But again, he’s 24! Twenty-freaking-four. Think back to your days as a mid-twenties aspiring professional. Where was your level of self-awareness at? Did you know exactly what you wanted to be, how you wanted to go about getting there, and what exactly was expected from you to make this goal happen? Or were you, you know, just figuring it out, taking things day-by-day?

For Bruce Brown, moving across the country in the midst of a global pandemic with just 10 days to spare... that’s the stressful part. His job description, regardless of who he play for?, has never changed. As the brand new Brooklynite leaves his required quarantine in a foreign city, he’s entering a situation that feels vaguely... familiar. A role that fits him just like home.

Bruce Brown is a grinder. A barnacle on defense that molds and engulfs his assignments; a defensive arthropod who eases the load on his teammates––regardless of the pedigree of those who surround him––by placing a vice-grip on those who dare oppose his grindstone mentality. The more he festers on the carnage of the hopeless opposition, the more he expands his reach, growing in size, power, and spikiness, sucking the blood from the crawling competitors as they attempt to pierce his impenetrable grasp.

He’s been this way since he entered the league as the 42nd overall pick in the 2018 draft, cognizant of his NBA destiny even as a 22-year-old, and it’s why he’s stuck around.

His mentality was simple upon being drafted: “Come in and be a dog.”

Bruce continued on this point...

“Obviously (as) a second-round pick, (I) thought I could have went higher. So, I went in with the mentality of knowing what I can do, knowing my role early, locking in on the defensive and really pave a way for myself to play a little bit.”

Batting away 146 total deflections in his sophomore season––a top-40 mark in its own right––and Brown is already living up to his prodigious self-billing. Not to mention, in just two short seasons, he’s already found ways to improve upon himself as a player, sharpening up his three-point percentage to the tune of 34.4% accuracy from the deep, compared to 25.8% in his rookie season. The accolades go further; in an enhanced role in 2019-2020, his points per game jumped from 4.3 to 8.9, his assists crept up from 1.2 on average to 4.0, and his rebounds moved from 2.5 per game to 4.7. Put a bigger share of responsibility on Brown’s plate, and he’ll do anything but shy away from the task. Rather, Bruce can respond with a vengeance and tackle those expectations like an All-Pro linebacker––always a good sign when dealing with younger players.

Here’s a look at his three-point stoke: a smooth, rhythmic, one-motion shot that should continue to improve as time progresses while surrounded by almost laughably gifted teammates.

Of course, when asked by NetsDaily, he mentioned that further growth could be experienced in other areas of his game.

“I think my playmaking ability,” was Brown’s first response when questioned about what could catch Nets fans by surprise.

“I think if you watched me play this past year, I’ve showed flashes of doing a little bit of everything out there. I think I’m the only guard in Pistons history to have three games in a row with 10 rebounds, so I think I can do a little bit of everything out there, getting assists, and scoring if I need to.”

And who’s to argue with him? Below, he responds well to getting run off the line, lowering his head and barricading into the paint. Then, right as the frantic Indiana Pacers defense converges four at a time, he whips a hanging hook pass to Luke Kennard at the weak-side slot, who nails the open three.

He’s earned mixed results as a playmaker so far, most notably receiving a bit of constructive criticism from former coach Dwane Casey in Detroit.

Bruce, going forward, is probably not gonna be a point guard. That’s for free agency, draft and all that, but again the experience he’s getting there is going to help him to tread water and have to be a secondary ball-handler.

But if we’ve learned one thing about Bruce Brown, it’s that he takes his poor marks sketched on those grading papers and rips them to shreds; he’s an overachiever, regardless of the city, school, or the organization he’s playing for.

He’s a grinder, you know. He lives for this stuff.