Monday is the first day that the Nets and Bruce Brown’s representatives can talk about extending the 24-year-old’s contract beyond this season.
On Saturday night, Brown scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds in Brooklyn’s nationally television game vs. the Warriors in San Francisco. No doubt his best game with the Nets ... and it came with a twist.
The 6’4” Brown, who has a 6’9” wingspan, played the 5 for the Nets! DeAndre Jordan was out for personal reasons and Kevin Durant was the 4 ... and the Nets small ball lineup played what more than one pundit —and fan— called beautiful small ball.
“I just think we had a game plan, and we went out there and did it perfectly,” Brown said after the game. “We knew they were going to help off me, so once they left me, I just cut to the rim, and I was wide open, every time.
“I’m used to teams leaving me because we have the scorers we have on the floor when I’m out there, so I’m just going to cut and find ways to score the ball.”
As Peter Botte notes, that game plan included him working down low and be the beneficiary of the both pick-and-rolls and putbacks, a function of Brown’s grit, strength and positioning.
Brown, of course, came to the Nets as part of the three-team trade on Draft Night that also produced Landry Shamet and Reggie Perry. Playing 99 games for the Pistons over two years, the Miami product was acquired for his defense. The Nets also knew he could play a pinch at point guard.
Now, instead of backing up the Nets two All-NBA guards in Kyrie Irving and James Harden, Brown has become a starter, and not in the backcourt. As Botte notes, “The third-year guard out of Miami has started five of the Nets’ last eight games, averaging about 23 minutes per appearance over that stretch.”
In fact, in a little more than two weeks, Brown has had games of 19, 18, 13 and 12. He’s come close to breaking 10 rebounds twice. The one area he could use improvement is 3-point shooting. He’s hitting just under 30 percent of his attempts. but on Saturday, he didn’t even take one. Didn’t need too. He was 8-of-12 playing the 5.
“I knew my opportunity was going to come at some point, so I just had to stay ready,” Brown said post-game Saturday night. “That stay-ready group really helped me along the way. The coaches, the players, we competed in that group, so all thanks to them for keeping me on my toes and being ready.”
The Nets will have two shots at extending Brown, now and if they don’t extend him, in August. He’ll be a restricted free agent and the Nets can match. Probably better to get him done sooner rather than later. A lot of teams can use a player capable of playing 1 through 5.
- Bruce Brown provided big lift as Nets faced center dilemma - Peter Botte - New York Post