Trading Mason Plumlee, acquiring Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, retaining Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez concludes the principal offseason moves for the Brooklyn Nets. With summer league transpiring the offseason focus shifts from roster development to player development. One player on the summer league roster poised and simultaneously obliged – for the sake of team improvement – to breakout from next season is Markel Brown.
Before the All-Star break Brown played in 17 games for 5.6 minutes per game and averaged 2.2 points per game, 0.4 assists per game and 0.6 rebounds per game. Brown also spent time in the NBA D-League with fellow rookie Cory Jefferson. After the break Brown found more time on the court, playing in 30 games averaging 22.9 minutes per game, 6 points per game, 1.1 assists per game and 3.2 rebounds per game.
Although his post All-Star improvements don’t portray him as an impactful player in the near future, Brown could be just that. It’s not the composite late season numbers that position Brown to burst into a larger role, but the flashes at the year’s end.
In his first game as a starter, facing the Denver Nuggets, Brown recorded a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds. Against the New Orleans Pelicans in the following game he engaged in every aspect of the game totalling eight points, four rebounds, one assist, one block and three steals.
After his initial involvement as a starter Brown continued to impress. Against the Los Angeles Lakers he scored a career-high 17 points, collected four rebounds and assisted four times.
To breakout Brown must turn those highlight performances into consistent production. Thus far this offseason Brown expressed what work will happen and the manner in which he will conduct his training. He explained how he wants to improve his handles and scoring ability, something Nets assistant coach Joe Wolf hopes to see. “I think he just needs to keep getting better off the dribble and getting to the paint and then scoring. And once he gets there, making good decisions,” Wolf said. “He’s working on that every day and we’ll keep seeing improvement from him.”
Publicizing such information mounts pressure onto Brown to exhibit his progression in those facets of the game and succeed, which may help later in the offseason to hold himself accountable.
Working and improving should allow Brown to capitalize on his opportunities in games, which should increase after the departure of Alan Anderson. Here’s what Brown had to say about Anderson’s departure.
[Anderson] was a pretty solid defender for us, so someone’s going to have to fill that role, and someone is going to have to fill the role of him scoring buckets and making the hustle plays. So I feel like I can go out there and do that, but it’s going to take a lot to fill his shoes.
Anderson played in 74 games last season, relied upon mostly for his perimeter shooting. While Brown hasn’t displayed the ability to fulfil that void he can replace Anderson’s time on the court in other ways. Using his athleticism Brown can fly to the paint and finish.
As a point guard, especially in the Nets stagnant offense, cutting to the basket and receiving passes dissolves as a constant resource to score, thus, driving to the paint becomes imperative. Developing dribble moves to beat defenders and drive would allow for Brown’s game to flourish. Recognising the importance of this approaching his second season suggests heightened success next year.
This upcoming season Brown enters the final year of his rookie deal earning $845K. When the season concludes he will become a restricted free agent.