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Bruce Brown going home riding high after second half surge

Memphis Grizzlies v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Bruce Brown has to be the bane of advance scouts, those men and women who go to games of other teams to see what they can glean for a report back to the team’s coaching staff.

The old narrative on Brown was that he was a solid defender but other than his work on short rolls to the basket, he wasn’t an offensive threat, particularly from deep. That take should have changed after the 76ers trade when changes in personnel game him a big role and he took advantage of it, particularly from deep.

But he says it hasn’t happened yet.

”They’re still playing me the same exact way,” Brown said

Sounds like a disconnect! Brown, as any Nets can see, has become a much, much more reliable 3-point shooter since the February 10 trade. As James Herbert of CBS Sports writes this weekend...

Entering their first-round series against the Boston Celtics, it’s worth wondering whether or not Brown should still be considered a non-shooter. He dedicated much of last summer to improving his jumper, but shot just 31.7 percent from 3-point range before the All-Star break, attempting fewer than Draymond Green on a per-minute basis. After the break, Brown shot 3s about twice as frequently and made 47.2 percent of them.

We’re not talking about a small sample size any more. After a steady stream of reps — and some tweaks from Kyle Korver, shooting legend and Nets assistant — Brown looks to be the real thing. That 47.2 number is even better than what Seth Curry has shot since the trade, a slightly cooler 46.8. Indeed, there’s been a lot of talk of late that Brown’s emergence has become an ancillary and very tangible benefit of the trade, as much as Curry’s shooting or Andre Drummond’s rebounding.

Indeed, as Herbert points out in his analysis of the upcoming Boston series, the Nets offense has become a lot more solid in part because of Brown’s play but also because of increasing familiarity among the rotation players starting with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

It’s a big part of their hopes, as is Brown’s appetite for showing his hometown what he’s made of and once again disproving the disrespect he’s felt since being taken with the No. 42 pick in the 2018 Draft by the Pistons.

“I love going back home, seeing my family and my friends, a great atmosphere in TD Garden,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be a lot of fun.”

He also gave Boston some bulletin board material this past week when he opined about how without Robert Williams for at least the start of the series, Boston would be forced to play Daniel Theis and Al Horford who Brown sees as lesser threats. Durant smacked him down a bit. Kevin Durant knows that you do not do that. And Theis responded as well saying, “I mean, he said what he said. So for us, show it on the court, If thinks the way he thinks, we’re going to prove him wrong.”

Chalk it up to youthful enthusiasm.

Still, the absence of such a notorious shot blocker should help Brown find those creases that have always been his mainstay. And he understands his primary role as well, getting the great shooters the openings they need.

“If the big is in the paint and I have Patty, Seth, K or Ky at the 3-point line, I can screen their man and they’ll be wide open,” Brown said.

Brown admittedly uses perceived disrespect to motivate him, whether it’s draft position or his shooting or his inability to get more than the $4.7 million qualifying offer last summer after his breakout year. His fit, great with the Nets, would not be replicated elsewhere, other NBA GMs seem to believe.

“I still take it as disrespect,” said Brown of his free agency. “I still have that chip on my shoulder. I’m a second-round pick, [No.] 42. I’m not supposed to be in this position. I’m super-excited to be here, playing and starting in the playoffs, going back home.”

He said that wearing a shirt with “BOSTON” across the front.