Every year, ESPN’s Zach Lowe puts together his “Luke Walton All-Stars,” which he describes as five “journeymen and guys who have fought to stick in the NBA,” and this year’s “captain,” per Lowe, is Bruce Brown.
Lowe lavishes praise on the Nets guard, um center, um rover, um, Swiss Army Knife, who Sean Marks acquired in a three-way Draft Night deal that also produced Landry Shamet and Reggie Perry.
He recounts Brown’s season starting with the surprising trade — “I thought I was gonna be in Detroit a while,” Brown said of his shock at the news — to how after falling out of the rotation, Nash proposed a new role based on the coach’s desire to find a place for him — “How do we keep him on the floor?”
What if Brown could become a screener, effectively transforming into a center on offense? “I was not even halfway expecting anything like this,” Nash says. “But he jumped at the ask.”
Brown became an unconventional pick-and-roll partner for Durant, Irving, and eventually James Harden.
And a new position was created for Brown that has many names, but comes down to Brown’s ability to slip and slide in the Nets offense while, as Lowe wrote, defenders “gawk” at whoever among the “Big Three” is on the court.
“It was really my only way to score,” Brown told Lowe. “The guy guarding me is trying to muck up the paint. Once I hit a few floaters, they gotta keep an eye on me.”
Lowe also notes some interesting data points about Brown’s game (which produced 15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and a block last night).
He has rebounded 9% of Brooklyn’s misses while on the floor, one of the 10 highest single-season offensive rebounding rates ever among players listed 6-foot-4 or shorter, per Basketball-Reference.
And Lowe notes that Brown did a solid job of defending Harden before he arrived in Brooklyn, being Detroit’s “Harden stopper.”
In two head-to-head games, Harden was 2-of-11 with Brown defending him, per Second Spectrum.
For the season, Brown is averaging 8.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and almost a steal a game in 22 minutes. While shooting only 29 percent from deep, his numbers have improved of late. Since the beginning of April, he’s hit nearly 40 percent.
So what’s his future? Brown is a restricted free agent meaning the Nets can match any offer he gets elsewhere. The max he can get is a four-year, $56 million deal, which is not likely. But Hoopshype estimated he’s likely to get a starting salary of $9 to $10 million from someone this summer.
Who else is on Lowe’s team? It’s an eclectic group that includes Kenrich Williams of the Thunder; Cameron Payne of the Suns; Alec Burks of the Knicks; Juan Toscano-Anderson of the Warriors; Malik Monk of the Hornets; Yuta Watanabe and DeAndre’ Bembry of the Raptors; Garrison Mathews of the Wizards and Isaiah Hartenstein of the Cavaliers.
- The Luke Walton All-Stars — 10 players who starred in their roles in 2021 - Zach Lowe - ESPN+