The Nets are bringing back only seven players from last year’s squad — eight if you count LaMarcus Aldridge. In filling in those open roster spots, the Nets went big. In addition to un-retiring Aldridge, they drafted Day’Ron Sharpe and RaiQuan Gray, re-signed Blake Griffin, signed James Johnson and Paul Millsap, traded for Sekou Doumbouya, even added Devontae Cacok on an Exhibit 10. Whole lot of bigs.
Last year, of course, with so many injured players and a scarcity of centers and power forwards, Bruce Brown got a chance to prove himself. He may have played point guard and a little wing in Detroit but in Brooklyn, he became “positionless,” a “rover,” a role the 6’4” Brown developed using his athleticism, a smashing floater and BBIQ. It didn’t hurt that after January 13, he also had James Harden finding him for easy shots.
In an interview with Anthony Puccio of The Association (remember him?), Brown said he understands things will be different with all those talented bigs, but he thinks he’ll find a way.
“Adjusting roles will be easy for me because I wasn’t a 4 my whole life. It’s all about adjusting to each team and what they need. That’s what I’m best at,” he told Pooch. “I think that’s what the team needed at the time, and it was working. It was throwing other teams off and putting them at disadvantages. And most importantly, I can finish at the rim.”
Finish he did. As Pooch wrote...
Brown shot a career-best 59.9% from two-point range last year — 28.8% from three. He played the third-most games on the team, and besides the Big Three, he posted the third-highest net-rating on the team — trailing only Claxton and Blake Griffin (min. 20 games).
Brown’s 3-point shooting did drop from his last year with the Pistons to his first one with the Nets. As his overall percentage rose, his deep shooting dipped, from 34.4 percent to 28.8. Moreover, his shooting from the corners, a strength in Detroit, disappointed. Brown shot just 13-of-45 (28.9 percent) on corner threes in 2020-21 after shooting 25-of-60 (41.7 percent) in the truncated 2019-20 season.
So now, Brown says he wants to get back to the numbers he put up in Detroit. Asked what’s he prioritized in the offseason, Brown responded with one word: “Shooting.” Being able to play more on the perimeter will add to his arsenal and get him more minutes on a stacked roster.
The Miami product, of course, made his bones playing defense. The Nets liked that aspect of his game enough to acquire him in an off-season trade a year ago July. And Nash liked his D enough to play him in the post-season. He was one of eight players the Nets coach played in Game 7 of the Bucks series.
A lot of Nets fans didn’t expect him back this season, with off-season analysis putting his projected salary anywhere from $8 million to $15 million with a projected contract length of up to four years. That might have been too rich for the Nets blood, but he agreed to accept the Nets qualifying offer of $4.7 million. It’s a one year deal (and he can’t be traded without his permission.)
Brown hasn’t discussed why he didn’t get a more lucrative deal and told Pooch that there were other reasons why he came back, using a phrase other returning Nets have used.
“To compete for a championship and play on a great team. We had unfinished business. I wasn’t gonna miss that opportunity,,” he said of his rationale for returning.
Brown also spoke about Sekou Doumbouya who was his teammate in Detroit in 2019-20 and now again in Brooklyn. He hinted that the Nets may want to use him in different roles. Sound familiar?
“We didn’t speak before the trade,” he said. “We’re friends, so we talk from time to time. Ya know, that’s my dawg. I’m excited for him to be here. He’s still finding his way, so the Nets are the perfect place to learn. He’ll have a chance to learn multiple roles and learn from the best.”
Just like Brown did last season.