Anthony Brown has consistently been overlooked.
He fell out of the first round despite checking every necessary box for a ‘3-and-D’ wing in today’s NBA. He was barely even mentioned during the off-season as a potential piece of the Lakers future core as many were more focused on higher potential guys like Robert Upshaw. Even his play in the preseason, particularly in the finale, has hardly gone noticed.
Hopefully, it hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Lakers coaching staff because one thing is for sure, Brown needs to be in the rotation.
First and foremost, Brown is already the Lakers best perimeter defender. That’s not saying much considering the Lakers other options, but if the Lakers plan on improving their defense this season, having someone on the perimeter capable of hanging with the top wings in the NBA is a necessity.
Jordan Clarkson is improving, but he is still average at best and doesn’t have the size to guard small forwards. Kobe and Metta are far removed from their All-Defensive team days, and Nick and Lou would barely be passable even if they tried on that end consistently, but that’s not going to happen.
Brown takes pride on that end of the floor and it starts with the basics. He gets down into picture-perfect defensive stance, sliding his feet and staying lateral with his man and keeping active hand to tip and steal passes. He also does a great job of recovering and closing out and very rarely did he not have a hand in his man’s face when the shot went up.
Offensively, Brown has shown himself to be one of the best shooters on the roster. Preseason is obviously a small sample size, but he shot 66.7 percent from three-point range. His effective field goal percentage (63.2) and true shooting percentage (64.3) were also extremely impressive.
It is also worth noting that all of Brown’s field goals were assisted baskets. This makes sense as Brown is not yet someone who can create his own shot consistently, but with this roster he doesn’t really need to. Looking at the Lakers, nearly every player is most comfortable with the ball in their hands. Russell, Clarkson, Kobe, Randle, Huertas, Lou, and Young are all ball-dominant guys. Some are capable of spotting up, but that is not necessarily their forte.
Brown is excellent off the ball and again it’s the little things that make a difference. He understands how to slide into open spots behind the arc depending on where the ball is and always has his hands ready to shoot once he receives the ball so there is no hesitation.
The question now becomes where will Brown’s minutes come from. Byron Scott has said that he is looking to have a 9-10 man rotation via Bill Oram of OC Register:
Scott says he hopes Lakers are able to stick to a 9-10 man rotation.
— Bill Oram (@billoram) October 26, 2015
With Huertas and Lou Will locks to get minutes off the bench, the only option would seem to be Brown taking minutes away from Nick Young, and that’s fine by me. Brown can provide the same shooting and with Huertas and Lou already being creators, he’ll have no pressure to do more than what he’s capable.
The Lakers are finally starting to show some promise for the future as Clarkson, Russell, and Randle could all be stars in this league, but role players are a necessity as well and Brown has the potential to be a very good one. Getting him on the floor and developing him as a defensive stopper should be a focus.