TrueHoop: Shannon Brown
- Joe Johnson made his return to Atlanta last night for the first time since the Hawks shipped him to Brooklyn. Bo Churney of HawksHoop writes that however outsized Johnson's second contract with the Hawks might have been, if you zoom out and look at the landscape from afar, you'll see the impact Johnson made in Atlanta: "Joe Johnson isn’t LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, or Chris Paul. You can easily argue that he was never a top ten player in the league, and point out that he only garnered two total MVP votes in his career. But what you have to acknowledge is that Joe Johnson revitalized a franchise that had fallen into the fiery pits of NBA hell. In the six years before Johnson arrived, the Hawks only won more than 30 games twice, and were in a certain type of futility that resulted in a 13-69 record in the 2004-05 season."
- Many gifted transition players are guys who phone it in during a defensive possession just waiting for the moment they can take off and run the break. They're basketball's equivalent to people who aren't listening so much as waiting for an opportunity to talk again. As Zach Harper of CBS Sports writes and illustrates, Corey Brewer isn't one of those guys. Brewer is an elite base defender in the half court who can leak out in transition as well as anyone.
- Carmelo Anthony had a cameo on "Nurse Jackie" a while back. Here's his audition still from London for "Downton Abbey."
- Orlando's Arron Afflalo is a solid NBA player, but he's not exceptional enough to subsist on his midrange game.
- Garbage in, garbage out -- true in information technology and on the basketball floor. Ian Levy takes a studied look at how shot selection correlates with offensive efficiency, and why the Mavericks struggled offensively prior to their current winning streak.
- Andrew McNeill of 48 Minutes of Hell after the Spurs' drubbing of the Grizzlies on Wednesday night: "It’s games like these that make me think that it would take a hell of a haul to trade Stephen Jackson. Jack thrives in games like these where the game gets physical and the Spurs are looking for someone to stick their chin out and challenge someone. San Antonio needs his toughness in these games. Jack had eight points and five assists against the Grizz, hitting 2-of-5 3-pointers."
- Adam Koscielak of Gothic Ginobili on Shannon Brown's dribble fetish: "Even the folks at the weekly pickup game I wrote about last week have more awareness than [Brown], and there's no shot-clock to respect, nothing to stop them from doing them but the purity of the game. They seem to embrace it. In a way, it's impressive that Brown -- despite all the pro experience, despite his two championship rings -- still manages to dribble the shot-clock out like that. It's impressive that his teammates and coaches still trust him enough to give him the ball. But the most magical fact of all is watching what exactly Shannon Brown does with that ball. Puts it between his legs, plays around with it, throws it behind his back, dazzles with it -- ... and ends up going absolutely nowhere. He rarely gets layups. If anything, he'll hit a lucky pull-up jumper that he'll follow with a brick or five."
- Stephen Curry re-aggravated his ankle injury, Jarrett Jack is gimpy -- and now the feel-good Warriors and their depth are being tested.
- The Lakers haven't been very animated this season, something this video from Michael Smith seeks to correct. Smith also explains why the Lakers' road to the postseason is so rocky.
- Marquis Daniels' GMC Savana has party lights, a cutting-edge A/V system, seats that can accommodate the Bucks' platoon of young 7-footers and a lot of loose change lying about.
- On egraphs, Reggie Evans wishes a fan a happy 27th birthday with a personalized audio message, in which he also asks for some dental advice.
- From this day forward, Jamaal Tinsley would like to be known as "The Listener."
- Wages of Wins is helping to raise money for cancer research, which increasingly relies on quantitative analysis not entirely unlike what we're seeing in basketball, one reason the fundraiser are asking donors to offer a "guess for which player will have the largest Points over Par game and which game" on Thursday or Friday's NBA schedule. The winner will have his contribution upgraded to the next donation tier.
- The Bobcats brought a large chunk of their regular-season roster to Las Vegas Summer League, and it's shown. James Herbert of Hardwood Paroxysm shared his thoughts on the new additions and what they might mean for Kemba Walker. Is Walker primed for a breakout season? As Herbert points out, there was no summer league prior to Walker's rookie season. He and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are making the most of their opportunity this year to develop a rapport. That chemistry and Walker's emergence as a leader will go a long way toward determining how this season goes for Charlotte.
- The word around Kings observers, both writers and fans alike, is how poorly Jimmer Fredette has played this summer. Over at Cowbell Kingdom, James Ham gets to the root of Fredette's problem: "Jimmer Fredette is too nice. He wants to fit in too badly. He doesn’t want to steal the spotlight, he just wants to be one of the guys and by doing so, he has lost the edge that made him great."
- Andrew McNeill recaps Cory Joseph's struggles Friday night, when Joseph turned the ball over 10 times, as well as how summer league as a whole went for the Spurs. Joseph's disappointment in his own play shows he's committed to getting better. That's been a common sentiment among young players who have struggled here in Las Vegas. Overall, the week was a success for both Joseph and the Spurs.
- When the Phoenix Suns signed Goran Dragic and drafted Kendall Marshall, there was talk about pairing the two in the backcourt. Regardless of that possibility, the Suns re-signed Shannon Brown to a two-year, $7 million deal to shore up their depth on the wing. Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns details how that deal fits into Phoenix's long-term cap situation. That story also includes a quote from Grant Hill indicating Hill would have liked to return to Phoenix. He, of course, ended up in Los Angeles, across the hallway in Staples Center from Steve Nash.
- The team that dines together garners gold medals together. Don't let the demonic look on Anthony Davis' face distract you from the real star of this picture -- Chris Paul's shirt. Even Russell Westbrook has to respect that sartorial selection.
- One of the scariest moments of summer league was Portland's Nolan Smith falling to the floor after a hard foul earlier in the week. Smith suffered a concussion and was taken off the court on a stretcher. He should be fine going forward; said Smith, "I’ll just keep playing with the same confidence and just being aggressive. That’s when I’m at my best. This injury isn’t going to slow me down."
- Greg Stiemsma is living the dream for which so many summer league participants are striving. The restricted free agent has agreed to terms with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the same team that offered him his first NBA contract way back on April 13, 2010.
- The curious case of the vanishing Terrico White and his re-emergence with the Los Angeles Clippers' squad this summer.
- Even the referees at summer league are looking to capture the memories of their week in Las Vegas.
- For my money, the most fascinating team in action has been the D-League Select team, which vanquished the Phoenix Suns on Friday night and held a 45-35 lead over the Minnesota Timberwolves at halftime Saturday evening before eventually losing 86-78. The Select players are playing with the massive chip on their shoulder that one would expect from those who see themselves as just as talented as the franchise-affiliated summer league invitees.
Last month, the Lakers scored a season-low 73 points, but still managed to beat the Mavericks, 73-70. Although 73 points is low for the Lakers, their offense has struggled all season to score.
Last season, the Lakers averaged 101.5 points on 94 possessions per game. This season, they rank 22nd in the league in scoring (93.3 PPG) even though they are averaging 93 possessions per game.
The Lakers’ 102-90 loss on Sunday against the Phoenix Suns typified their offensive struggles, especially behind the arc. They shot 3-of-18 on 3-point attempts, and for the season the Lakers are shooting 30.1 percent from 3-point range -- down more than 5 percent from last season.
They shot 1-of-16 (6.3 percent) on 3-point attempts in a road loss to the Kings on Dec. 26, and failed to make a 3-pointer on 11 attempts in a road loss at Portland on Jan. 5. It was the first time Los Angeles failed to make a 3-point shot in a game since Nov. 16, 2003 against the Miami Heat.
Derek Fisher and Metta World Peace are posting career-low percentages on 3-point attempts, and Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake and Matt Barnes are shooting below their career marks as well.
Beyond their shooting struggles, the Lakers have not been able to run this season. They have the fewest transition points (330) in the league and average only 10.3 transition points per game. Only 8.6 percent of the Lakers’ plays have come in transition this season, second-fewest in the league behind the Orlando Magic.
Bench production has been another area of concern after the departures of Lamar Odom (14.4 PPG last season) and Shannon Brown (8.8 PPG last season). The Lakers have the fewest bench points in the NBA this season, 21.5 bench points per game, compared with 28.2 last season.
All of the Lakers’ offensive struggles have been magnified in road games where they are 5-11 this season, compared with 14-2 at the Staples Center.
From the Elias Sports Bureau: Wall is the first rookie to score at least 25 second-half points after being held scoreless in the first half since Adam Morrison on Feb. 21, 2007. Morrison scored 26 points in the second half in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Wall took a season-high seven three-pointers and made a season-best three.
The 76ers lost despite having a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter (92-77 with less than eight minutes to play).
From the Elias Sports Bureau: It's the first time since Dec. 17, 2004 that Philadelphia blew a lead of at least 15 points in the fourth quarter. As for the Wizards, it was their first win when trailing by at least 15 points in the fourth since Jan. 30, 2004 against the Suns.
Around the rest of the NBA …
Shannon Brown tied a season-high with 21 points, making a career-high five three-pointers, as the Lakers beat the Bulls 98-91. Los Angeles has now won seven straight games overall against the Bulls. That ties the Lakers longest streak against the Bulls; also done from 1971-73.
This season's Lakers are the sixth Phil Jackson-led team to win 13 or more games before losing for the third time. In each of the previous five seasons Jackson's teams have gotten off to that hot of a start, his team has gone on to win the NBA title (1991-92, 1995-96 and 1996-97 with the Bulls and 2001-02 and 2008-09 with the Lakers).
From the Elias Sports Bureau: Derrick Rose has 307 points and 101 assists in Chicago's 12 games this season. Rose is the ninth different player in NBA history with at least 300 points and 100 assists in his team's first 12 games of a season. Oscar Robertson did it five times, Dave Bing (1968-69), Jerry West (1970-71), Nate Archibald (1972-73), Isiah Thomas (1984-85), Michael Adams (1991-92), Gary Payton (2000-01) and Allen Iverson (2005-06).
- J.A. Adande and Sam Smith offer two evocative impressions on Scottie Pippen, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday.
- Albert Lyu of Think Blue Crew has put together a series of compelling work on the blocked shot. Today he unveils part three, which examines which types of shots are most and least commonly blocked. Here's an interesting finding: "19.73% of all generic layups were blocked in 2007-2010."
- Neil Paine of Basketball Reference's blog looks at how teams with unusually high turnover in personnel traditionally fare the next season. The post offers further evidence that watching the 1978-79 San Diego Clippers would've been a joyous ride.
- A fine, fine blog post from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Michael Cunningham after observing Larry Drew's assistant coach clinic. Not only did Cunningham get to watch Tyrone Hill play the role of Al Horford, but he witnessed a more fluid game plan than the one that the one Hawks fans were accustomed to: "For weeks L.D. has said his system would 'force the ball to move' and I get that now. Things happen so fast there’s not much opportunity for holding the ball. The screens and cuts happen quickly and if the first option is not there then the ball quickly swings the other way, leading to move movement. Not much possession time is spent on the one- or even two-man game. Each guy gets a chance to touch the ball at different spots on the floor. Decisions must be made quickly for things to flow correctly."
- Trey Kerby of Ball Don't Lie visits with Kevin Durant. The interview gets off to a fun start: " Trey Kerby: I know you're going to deny it, but ... Kevin Durant: Then why are you going to ask? Why you have to ask me this, Trey? (laughing)."
- The average ticket price for the Heat's home opener in Miami against Orlando? That will be $806 please. (Hat Tip: Magic Basketball) For the Bobcats home opener in Charlotte against Indiana on the same night, you can get into the lower corners for $51 per ticket.
- There's little discernible excitement for Derrick Favors outside of New Jersey and specific precincts in Atlanta, but I'm not sure why. As Devin Kharpertian demonstrates through video, Favors is an explosive force with a soft touch around the rim. 20 percent of Favors' field goals at Georgia Tech came on dunks which, when you consider the Jackets' guard play, is worth noting.
- Unlike Favors, Al Harrington is a known quantity, but his versatility still warrants examination. Fortunately, Jeremy Wagner has opened up the Roundball Mining Company Film Room for regular showings of Harrington's irregular game.
- Rahat Huq of Red94, Ryan Schwan of Hornets247, Jared Wade of 8 points, 9 seconds and Sebastian Pruiti of Nets Are Scorching gather around the virtual roundtable and discuss Wednesday's four-team trade. Huq has some interesting misgivings about Ariza's defense: "The issue of Ariza’s defense is a contentious one. His reputation precedes him, but his is a reckless, instinctual approach, garnering him gaudy steals totals but often leaving his teammates scrambling to rotate after blown coverage. Still, this manner can be conducive to forcing tempo if that’s your cup of tea."
- The Hornets have long needed some help on the wings. Here's a stat pack from Hornets247 on how Ariza and Marco Belinelli can help.
- Indy Cornrows breaks down Darren Collison's stellar rookie campaign.
- Jeff Skibiski of Forum Blue & Gold on Shannon Brown: "Shannon’s insatiable appetite for scintillating dunks and seemingly endless energy has been one of the most exciting facets of the Lakers’ past two title teams. In many ways, I think this is what ultimately hurt Shannon more than anything in his disappointing dunk contest appearance. Like Kobe, Brown is more a jaw-dropping in-game dunker, which in my opinion, is a much more valuable skill set to have than the creative costume faire we’ve see at the past few All-Star Weekends. After the viral 'Let Shannon Dunk' campaign, his lackluster performance in the dunk contest was definitely a lowlight of last season, but I don’t think it’s indicative of much of anything as far as his play with the Lakers is concerned."
- Roland Lazenby joins the Los Angeles Times' Lakers Roundtable to discuss Jerry West and the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team under coach Pete Newell.
- Zarar Siddiqi of Raptors Republic: "[I]t’s easier to be a defensive specialist than it is an offensive weapon, the latter requires a degree of tangible skill like shooting, dribbling, creativity and finishing whereas playing defense is more about effort. I’m not suggesting that playing defense doesn’t require skill, but it’s a skill that is born of effort (which Doc Rivers swears is a skill). Got that?"
- Nate Robinson's home court in Seattle.
- Brandon Rush and DeMar DeRozan: Two native Angelenos with two different ideas of go-to joints. Advantage Rush, not only for restaurant choice but his willingness to order breakfast food in the middle of the day.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
A star of All-Star Weekend, who remembers unemployment.
June 14, 2007 was a bad day to be in the Cleveland Cavaliers' post-game locker room. Down the hall, the San Antonio Spurs were running around with champagne, cigars and trophies. Tony Parker was guffawing. Even Tim Duncan cracked a smile.
The Cavaliers had just completed one of the worst Finals performances of all time, having been swept with relative ease. The season was over.
At his locker near the door, one Cavalier was facing an especially long summer. Rookie Shannon Brown was coming off a season in which he never really got to make a name for himself.
The season was over. His averages, over 23 games: 3.2 points per game to go with one foul, 0.9 of a rebound, 0.6 of a turnover, 0.4 of an assist, and 0.3 of a steal.
That is not the stuff dreams, or NBA careers, are built on.
Whereas LeBron James may have been sad that his first attempt at a title had gone haywire at the end, Brown was facing tough questions about his future in the NBA.
I remember watching him get dressed. Slowly. It was tempting to ask questions about his plans for the off-season, or the game that just ended, but it almost seemed cruel. Everyone in the room knew that his season had not gone well, and that even though he was a first-round pick with a guaranteed contract, his future in the NBA was uncertain.
He answered questions politely, and with a smile, but you could feel the effort that was required to do so.
As Andrew Kamenetzky writes on ESPNLosAngeles, the situation would return with a fury a year later, when he found himself out of work.
"It was hard," admitted Brown, tapping an empty plastic sports drink bottle against the medicine ball. "I went through a time where I cut my phones off and just sat around. Didn't really want to talk to nobody. Didn't want to see nobody. Didn't cut on the TV. I was just trying to figure out life, I guess. I've always had high expectations for myself and failing is not really an option. I had to sit back and evaluate myself, my life, the things that I've been through. Where I was, where I could possibly go."
"I did a lot of praying, man."
Brown was also expecting his first child, which theoretically meant even more pressure. But instead, a son on the way offered something to focus on besides question marks: Being a father. "My son came and gave me almost a new life," says Brown. "He gave me a breath of fresh air and really helped put things in perspective." Brown eventually received a one-year contract from the Charlotte Bobcats, but the birth coincided with the first day and a half of training camp, inconvenient timing for a player hoping for an immediate impression. Larry Brown, however, allowed Shannon to miss camp to witness his son's arrival, an experience he "wouldn't trade in for the world."
As it turned out, the infant served as the first bookend to a season about to drastically change Brown's career.
After a productive 30 games in Charlotte in the 2008-2009 season, Brown was traded to the Lakers.
Since things could hardly have gone better. Brown has not only become a key rotation player for one of the defending champions, but also the popular pick to win Saturday's dunk contest (which often comes with lucrative endorsements), and another championship ring.
All of which makes Brown the case study in how sometimes, things can turn around quickly.
Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
- Kurt from Forum Blue & Gold will have his eye on Jazz rookie Kosta Koufos during tonight's Lakers-Jazz game. Kurt cites David Thorpe's description of Koufos' arsenal: "Want to get an idea of how diversified Koufos' offensive game is? Here's how he scored his buckets in the Jazz's big win over Dallas: Offensive-rebound putback, layup off a dive in low-high action, step-through off a loose ball, race to the rim from the left-hand side, left-hand dribble and right-hand layup over Erick Dampier, rim-to-rim sprint and dunk, pick-and-roll left-hand finish, dive-to-the-rim dunk in low-high action, right-hand hook (and 1!) off a pick-and-roll."
- In response to Bill Simmons' claim that Steve Nash's numbers were inflated under Mike D'Antoni, Michael Schwartz from Valley of the Suns counters: "[W]hy is Nash averaging just 14.8 ppg and 8.3 apg this season after his stellar four-year run under D'Antoni? Simmons makes the point that those numbers are in line with what Nash averaged in his final season in Dallas. And although they're down from what he's done in Phoenix, who can complain about the 34-year-old Nash's numbers being in line with his 29-year-old self? Sure, I'd attribute some of the decrease to Nash getting up there in age and fighting injury issues such as the back spasms that have kept him out of most of the past two games. But also the Suns just don't need him to be the same kind of point guard he was under D'Antoni. Nash used to be the engine that made the system go, a vital cog that would result in the entire system blowing when he's not around. Now he's more of a propeller, as the Suns still need him to run their best, but they have a Diesel to carry the load if need be."
- Sorting through his mailbag, Dave D'Alessandro defends Nets coach Lawrence Frank against the pitchfork people in New Jersey: "[I]t's pretty clear that this coach has a) devised a pretty potent offense for the talent they've assembled; b) inspired terrific starts from his two best players; c) is right on schedule in developing one of their rookies into a top-10 center; and d) used the role players as well as anyone could (possible exception: Najera), given their glaring limitations. Maybe he's made mistakes, but that's just a second-guess - he had seven new guys he is still learning about. If they get out of this month with anything close to a .500 record, he should be a COY candidate."
- Aron Phillips at Dime wonders, "Will there ever be another team with so many NBA coaches" produced from its ranks as the 1985-86 Boston Celtics?
- The new-look Bobcats are 4-5 since the big trade. Queen City Hoops says that Boris Diaw deserves some of the credit, but that much of the progress can be chalked up to the upward trajectory of Emeka Okafor and Gerald Wallace since the deal: "Since Boris' arrival, Gerald has been unreal - 20.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.3 blocks...With Boris around, Okafor has gone off to the tune of 17.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game."
- Raja Bell will be out of action again tonight. Rufus on Fire doesn't like Larry Brown's depth chart behind Bell: "Matt Carroll, inexplicably, gets another start in Raja Bell's absence. Morrison's a wreck right now, Carroll's just as bad, and starting two point guards is a recipe for rejuvenating Michael Redd. How badly does Shannon Brown have to practice before Larry Brown realizes he has a perfectly capable stopgap solution already on the roster?"
- Micah Hart has some New Years resolutions for the Atlanta Hawks. Compensating for Mike Bibby's defense at the point is among them: "One of the main reasons New Jersey swept the Hawks back in November was the performance of Nets' PG Devin Harris, who used his quickness to get into the lane as he torched Atlanta for 63 points in two games. Other quick point guards have done very well against the Hawks also, and defending their penetration has really been the biggest achilles heel for the Hawks D. We all know Mike Bibby won't be making any All-Defensive teams anytime soon, but knowing his shortcomings on the defensive end...the Hawks are going to have to figure out other ways of clogging the lane to keep the Harrises and Roses of the world from forming a lay-up line."
- Kelly Dwyer notes that it's a great night for League Pass subscribers, because every team in the NBA is in action. Even lonely ol' Channel 764 will have a broadcast.
- On the docket is a Magic-Heat contest. Third Quarter Collapse isn't buying that "it's just another game": "Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy has said countless times that playing the Miami Heat is just another game .. but everyone knows, including the Magic players, that he delights in beating his former team. "
- Peter Robert Casey's examination of the descriptive verbs highlighting each one of NJIT basketball's 40 losses will remind Infinite Jest fans of Jim Troeltsch's hijinks as the in-house sportscaster at Enfield Tennis Academy: " I decided to riffle through the archives see exactly how the SID went about this challenge over the last, say, 40 losses. After being topped, toppled, carried, stopped, propelled, held off, beaten, edged, thwarted, pulled away, upended, defeated, chilled, worn down, lifted, fallen, and lost multiple times, it doesn't surprise me that Casciano had to take a T.O. for health reasons."
Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
Basketball's statistical revolution has come a long way in recent years, yet PPG is still stubbornly entrenched as basketball's defining stat. A lot of clubs are starting to employ more sophisticated metrics in evaluating a player, but points still command a lot of power at the negotiating table. Players know it. Their agents know it. And ownership knows it. Coaches evangelize about the value of the little things, hustle, and stuff that doesn't show up in the box score, but NBA salaries are more closely correlated with points than any intangible factor.
David Berri at Wages of Wins Journal has documented this phenomenon as well as anyone. He uses a recent piece by Rick Bonnell on 22-year-old Bobcat guard Shannon Brown to illustrate the point. It's a familiar story: Brown felt that he was in the doghouse, but didn't understand why. His assistant coach told him that despite his recent success shooting the ball, the team had plenty of other guys who could score [see Richardson, Jason and Morrison, Adam]. What the Bobcats' coaching staff needed from Brown was "something else."
These stories highlight a problem that coaches face throughout the Association. Players have an incentive to shoot. The more a player scores, the more he will get paid and the more acclaim he will receive. You can see this when you look at the determinants of free agent salaries. And you can see this when you look at coaches' voting for the All-Rookie team.
Given the player's incentives, it's not surprising that Shannon Brown would look for his own shot. What's encouraging is that it appears the Bobcats are getting through to him. After seven games, Brown is shooting 50% from the floor and his overall production of wins - which was in the negative range during his first two seasons - is now well above average.
Berri builds on this final point. Despite Brown's efforts to conform to his coaches' demands, he's not seeing much PT. WoW suggests that despite the lip service paid to having guys play the right way/[insert your favorite sports cliché here], there's still a financial and systemic disincentive for players like Brown to not shoot...
All of this must make the relationship between the player and his coaches quite confusing. On the one hand Shannon Brown is being told to take good shots and focus on the non-scoring aspects of the game. On the other hand, Morrison and Richardson - who have not consistently hit shots this year - are not being punished with less playing time (or fewer shots).
Of course it's still very early in Charlotte's season. Certainly it's more than possible that the Shannon Brown we saw during his first two seasons will re-emerge. In fact, given that his effort to play the right way is not being fully rewarded, it seems likely that Shannon Brown might want to go back to taking shot after shot. After all, the data strongly suggests (although his coaches voice disagreement) player evaluations and decisions in the NBA are still driven by scoring (which happens when you take lots of shots).
Berri also does a nice job highlighting the problematic irony of a team like Charlotte. The players the staff regards as their scorers are less efficient than the guys who are asked to sublimate their urge to shoot in favor of doing the other stuff.