A good rule of thumb to live by is to never really expect much from a second round pick. While most of the guys drafted after the first 30 picks are surely talented, the NBA is filled with skilled players whose careers are hanging on by a lose thread. The churn at the bottom of NBA rosters isn’t quite like what you see in the NFL, but every year guys lose their jobs to similarly talented peers.
Depending on any 2nd round player for real contributions, then, is a mistake. If you strike gold — like the Lakers did with Jordan Clarkson — that’s great, but you cannot expect this to happen. The odds are just too low.
This brings us Anthony Brown, whom the Lakers selected with the 34th selection in this past draft. Brown showed strong play in the PAC 12 as both a Junior and Senior and looks to have translatable skills to the NBA level (more on this in a minute). The Lakers, hoping they’ve found another player who can be a long term piece, invested in Brown as such by signing him to a three year contract with the first two seasons fully guaranteed and a non-guaranteed third year*.
What I like most about Brown — and why, despite my earlier proclamations, I have high hopes for him — is the aforementioned skill set. Brown is not a flashy player and, as a 22 year old prospect, can’t be considered a player with huge upside. What he does have, however, is the type of length, shooting touch, and defensive potential to be a contributing player for a long time in this league.
Further, these are skills and traits the Lakers currently do not have a lot of on their roster — at least in a single player. Yes, Lou Williams, Ryan Kelly, and Nick Young can both shoot the ball well enough. And Roy Hibbert, Brandon Bass**, and, potentially, Larry Nance have defensive pedigrees which can have a positive impact. But none of the above players bring both long range shooting and defensive ability.
This, in theory, makes Brown, even as a rookie, an intriguing and potentially valuable player. But, as a rookie 2nd rounder, it sort of dulls that intrigue and makes that value seem more wishful than anything else.
One thing that can potentially work in his favor is that unlike fellow rookies D’Angelo Russell and, to a certain extent, Larry Nance Jr., Brown’s role will be strictly limited to shooting spot up jumpers and playing wing defense. By applying such a narrow focus to his role, he can channel all his energy into doing two things very well and trying to improve on those things, incrementally, until he can earn playing time.
Even if the odds are against him, the Lakers and their fans alike, are hoping he can do just that. Navigating that balance, though, is a difficult one.
Coming off a season of Clarkson, it’s easy to see a path for Brown to become a real player. After all, it’s not like the Lakers have a ton of depth at SF and he could easily slide into a lineup who needs just what he provides. In an ideal world, Brown might take a lesson or two from Kobe (a la Trevor Ariza) and find a way to develop into the type of talent who can find a role early in his career. On the other side of that coin, as a rookie — even an “experienced” one who played four years in college — he will be prone to making mistakes and, naturally, find himself on a short leash from a coach who has, historically, preferred veteran players.
Where that leaves us with Brown is, somewhat appropriately for this specific incarnation of the Lakers, with more questions than answers and with more hope than solid foundation to stand on. Brown seems to have the tools to make a niche for himself in this league. Whether he can actually make that happen, as a 2nd round pick, is pretty far from a given, though.
*The money we’re talking about here is not substantial at all. Brown’s salary for this upcoming year is 700K. His salary next year will be 875K. Even his non-guaranteed year will only be a shade over a million dollars and with the cap potentially jumping $40 million dollars over the next two summers, paying Brown this much is barely a drop in the bucket.
**When the Lakers acquired Bass I mentioned that defense was not a strength of his, but that was probably underselling him somewhat. Bass lacks elite size and length, but he’s a smart defender who works hard and knows how to be in the right place at the right time. This is a valuable combination and I expect him to be a positive influence on that end of the floor this season.
Warren Wee Lim says
The 3+D position has been there since the beginning but its only been in the 2010 decade that it has been given focus. Used to be players were classified into the positions of “small forward” or “power forward” or the more ambiguous “forward” … often, this position is associated with height and back in the 80’s and 90’s, some heft.
The point guard spot has changed alot as well, bringing in the likes of hybrid ball-handlers that can knock down 3s like fisher (nowhere near a true PG outside the TRI) and nowadays Patrick Beverley. While basketball has inched closer to the oft-used term of “positionless”, I’d like to classify our players in this manner:
True PG – none
Hybrid PG – D’Angelo Russell
Slasher – Jordan Clarkson
Pure Shooter – none
Undersized Shooter – Lou Williams, Jabari Brown
Shooting Guard – Kobe Bryant
Iso Scorer – Nick Young
Defensive forward – Larry Nance Jr
Hefty forward – Brandon Bass, Jonathan Holmes
3+D forward – Anthony Brown
Point-Forward – Julius Randle
Stretch-4 – Ryan Kelly
Small Ball Center – Tarik Black, Robert Sacre
True Center – Roy Hibbert
Stretch-5 – none
Craig W. says
I would disagree that Sacre was a small ball center. Enthusiasm, yes, but he isn’t quick enough that he can react appropriately to smaller players. Curiously, he is as much a tweener as is Black.
With so much of our focus on Russell, Clarkson, Hibbert, and Kobe, it was really nice that the last two threads were on our forward situation. It is interesting that we could start a veteran at each of our positions, but that is about the extent of our veteran presence. This is going to be a really interesting year for all of us, including Byron Scott. How to approach it all? How to develop so many young, but talented players. How to put on a show for the customers. How to decide. Ahhhh, Confucius! – ‘may you live in interesting times’ – is it a blessing or a curse?
Agree that the 2 threads on our forwards were a welcome sight –
As to Confucius´s renowned quote: definitely a blessing! Keep the faith, as I know you will 😉
Warren, nice post
Rebuilds take time — crawl, walk then run. Some thoughts along those lines from Kevin Pelton’s Friday (8/7) Chat:
Cedric: Can the Lakers make the 8 seed?
Kevin Pelton: They can. They almost certainly won’t.
Kobe (Mad in L.A): Kev, what do you mean ” they certainly won’t make the 8th seed”? How bad do you think Lakers will be? top 3 bad??
Kevin Pelton: Yes, I think that’s a reasonable possible.
Wilson : Outside of Philly and NY, which teams do you see as being top 5 or 6 worst team in the league next year?
Kevin Pelton: Minnesota and the Lakers still figure to be in that group, which I’d round out with Brooklyn
CJ: What’s your take on the Lakers this year? What positives do you see and what are some of the glaring weaknesses? They have to be dramatically better than last year ? Kobe, Hibbert and Randle. Right?
Kevin Pelton: There’s certainly more talent on hand than last year but it doesn’t seem like the pieces particularly fit together. There’s a lot of ballstoppers on offense and weak perimeter defenders, and basically the Lakers are counting on Hibbert to make up for that without the kind of sound system in which he operated in Indiana. So I don’t know that the results will be substantially better.
Any interest in Markieff Morris? He and Randle would make nice bookend forwards for the next 5 – 7 years.
I saw that Markieff Morris requested a trade. There’s a lot to like with him, he’s young and on a value contract (4 yrs/$32 Mil). He can hit the outside shot which is important in whomever the Lakers pair with Randle. Plus he has some baggage so the Lakers would be buying low.
The issue is that the Lakers have 7 forwards on the squad as it is and six of them can play the Four. If the Lakers could trade some quantity for quality (I like Morris’ game – others might not) then I’d have no issues.
We have a lot of youth but don’t know if they can play yet. And we have a lot of veterans with established low ceilings. That’s not a great combination if you have hopes/pressure to move up in the standings. The Lakers need more established young players with emerging talent. If I was the FO that is the market I would focus my attention on.
Warren Wee Lim says
Craig, I am very tempted to give Sacre a category of his own… it has something to do w/ waiving towels 😉
Warren Wee Lim says
IF you know how valuable Markieff Morris is because of his contract, you would be all over him. Problem is, what could you give?
Just what I thought.
Warren: Ah, the unfortunate reality is that we have little of value to trade for Morris — if indeed the Suns cared to move him.
– Just read the Lakers will host the T’Wolves in their season opener. #1 draft pick K.A.T. vs #2 draft pick D’ Angelo Russell, and a pretty decent chance of Lakers starting the season with a win.
– Jeff Miller, a hater?, just piling on, stating the obvious, or being a realist? Check out his following article on our beloved Lakers…
The Miller article is stating the obvious. I have long felt that the Lakers must close the Kobe chapter in order to open a new one and truly move forward.
Ummmm are we going to ignore the felony charges against Morris or the fact that he really didn’t play that well until the Suns got the twins. I don’t want an immature player around a young team. Yes Keef is really talented. He can play some 3 but is best as a 4 where Randle is the future. Plus you aren’t getting him for free. They would want something like Clarkson, Randle, or draft picks. Remember he can pout all he wants but he is under a good contract for multiple years. And he if refuses to play teams will be weary of how immature he really is. Lakers need to start building a team around a philosophy and stop trying to just get talent (yes you want talent, but you need talent that fits together).
Craig W. says
I couldn’t get through the Miller article. There was nothing new there. It seemed he had some space to fill and decided to do something with Kobe’s name because it would garner attention.
Miller’s piece is typical of the genre: for whatever reason, (petty emotions, click-hunting, etc.) he makes the entire situation about Kobe, instead of actually analyzing the overall situation. Miller gives the game away when he says, “(Kobe) is holding the team back” and talks about Kobe’s contract as if it magically appeared on its own.
Loren M. says
And Ricky Ledo would be a nice piece to bring to training camp, he should even go to pre-season with the LakeShow.
Craig W and rr: The Miller article didn’t bother me. However, I am somewhat in alignment with George on this issue. I would prefer Kobe be healthy, contribute on the floor and retire at the end of this year.
If Kobe does play longer, and the Lakers give him a one year extension, I think it would mean that the FO:
1) knows no elite free agents are coming next summer and they will roll out the “who else are we going to spend the money on argument.”
2) is OK with organic improvement (coming from the development of the kids) and likely missing the playoffs again in 2016/17.
3) once more rolling cap space forward, this time for the summer of 2017
4) is OK with Byron as the head coach for a 3rd year and living with his old school ways.
So, if there is a Kobe extension, I don’t see how it could be seen as anything other than another year of treading water for the franchise. That’s why I feel the team won’t completely move forward until Kobe retires.
Article by Kevin Pelton on landing spots for Markieff Morris.
The Lakers are mentioned. Note: I walk away if they want any of the Randle/Russell/Clarkson core. We have no idea what we have in those players so it would be foolish to trade from that disadvantage.
I will be surprised if Kobe is in the NBA next year. Even if he stays on the floor and plays pretty well, I can’t see what teams would want him and I can’t see him wanting to be in a Pierce/Carter role even if someone does want him. I do think that he will want to play overseas for a year if his body holds up this year. If he wants to play another year for the Lakers, then it will be the FO’s job to take any flack that comes from parting ways with him–because it’s time.
As to the article, guys like Miller basically think that Kobe is a losing type of player who hurts teams and have always had a hard time fitting that narrative around five banners. So, they give lip service to the banners and then blame Kobe for accepting his contract and for FAs not coming here. As I have said, even if Kobe had Magic Johnson’s personality and Bill Russell’s gravitas, a team with a 37-year-old taking up over 1/3 of the cap and a bunch of rookies and second-year men is a really tough sell–as the FO just found out last month.