Bruce Brown is listed as a “guard/forward” anywhere you look. The NBA’s measuring stick would tell you he’s a guard, and most likely a point guard at that. But in the era of positionless basketball, that can be virtually meaningless.
Now, it’s about inserting five players who fit an analytics-driven mold. You know, shoot a lot of open threes, play quick, and get shots at the rim — former Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni’s recipe.
That’s where gritty 6’4” guard/forwards transform into undersized power forwards or centers — players like P.J. Tucker under D’Antoni in Houston — and Brown in Brooklyn.
The Nets were stretched in the frontcourt: Nicolas Claxton was spry but still raw at 21, and DeAndre Jordan had slowed down considerably at 33. Not to mention LaMarcus Aldridge, who played just five games with the team due to an irregular heartbeat.
“That’s what the team needed at the time, and it was working,” Brown told The Association about playing in the frontcourt. “It was throwing other teams off and putting them at a disadvantage.
“Most importantly, I can finish at the rim.”
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).
Now with Aldridge, Griffin, and Paul Millsap back in the fold, positionless basketball will have an entirely new meaning for Brown, who might see time at virtually every spot outside of point guard duties.
“Adjusting roles will be easy for me, because I wasn’t a 4 my whole life,” he explained. “It’s about adjusting to each team and what they need. That’s what I’m best at.”
And what’s he prioritized in the offseason?
On paper, you might ask where Brown fits among one of the most talented teams assembled (again, on paper) — a record-tying five players with six-plus All-Star appearances. That’s among the other talented players who don’t show up in these stats — the likes of Joe Harris and Patty Mills of the world.
For Brooklyn, Brown became the glue guy — a must-sign for Sean Marks and the front office. What he does hardly shows up in the glory stats and NBA history tidbits, but it’s awfully hard to replicate.
Thus, a perfect relationship blossomed in what’s the most anticipated season in Nets history.
“I came back to compete for a championship and play on a great team,” Brown said. “We had unfinished business. I wasn’t gonna miss that opportunity.”