Brown Getting Advice From Veteran Price As He Adjusts To NBA

Brown Getting Advice From A.J. Price As He Adjusts To NBA

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

Email / Twitter

You always hear that baseball is the sport full of ironic numbers. If a batter hits the third pitch of his third at-bat 333 feet to break a Babe Ruth record held since the Sultan of Swat wore the No. 3, it causes a stir of attention surrounding that numeric connection.

A.J. Price and Lorenzo Brown may not be linked by a chain of numbers that deep, but they are certainly bound by the No. 52. That’s the draft position in which each found themselves during their particular selection into the NBA—Price was taken 52nd overall by the Pacers in 2009, Brown 52nd by the Timberwolves this June. And while that number might be insignificant in its own right, the difficult journey that comes along with it is more than noteworthy.

Playing in his first Training Camp and preseason, Brown is trying to pick up the pace and physicality of the game on the fly while also trying to secure a roster spot on this Wolves team. Price has been there. As a second-round pick with no guaranteed contract, you’re often tasked with trying to prove yourself while getting acquainted with the game. This preseason, both Price and Brown are currently competing with Othyus Jeffers and Robbie Hummel for one available roster spot. But during this competition, Price and Brown have developed a close-knit relationship linked by that difficult journey. Price has lived it—Brown is experiencing it.

“Whenever you transition from college to the league, especially in the first year, it’s extremely difficult,” Price said. “Especially coming in the second round, things like that. I took a liking to him. We happened to be the same pick in the draft, so that’s how hard it is in terms of what he’s doing, trying to make the team. I just try to keep him positive. I know guys get down on you at times, so I just try to keep him positive and keep his spirits up. He’s getting better every day.”

Tuesday, as it happens, might have been Brown’s best day at practice—according to Price. Brown showcased leadership on the court during this particular practice session, and he’s becoming more and more comfortable on the court.

That’s a process that dates back to initially playing for the Wolves’ Summer League team in July. In his first game against the D-League Selects, Brown said even the little details of the 24-second shot clock were changes worth noting. From that game on, the 6-foot-5 point guard has continue to develop his game while trying to showcase all the little things he can bring to the organization.

He’s getting caught up to speed with everything the NBA game has to offer—challenges and all—but he’s doing it in a system he enjoys. Brown said while the hardest part about handling the offensive workload of a point guard calling plays is understanding how each position reacts under certain situations, that also makes it fun.

“It’s a great system,” Brown said. “Everybody gets to touch the ball. Basically, it’s a team offense. Once you have an offense like that, it helps the team. You get, I think we can get a lot more wins that way.”

Brown’s athleticism allows him to be versatile on the court. His length at point guard is his best asset, because he can defend the ball in ways most players can’t at his position. His reach makes it more difficult to thread passes and accelerate past him. But Brown also said he feels like he can help the team offensively as a dual threat. He did score more than 12 points per game in each of his final two seasons at NC State, and he averaged 7.2 assists per game in his final year with the Wolfpack. As early as mid-September during the team’s unofficial player workouts, forward Dante Cunningham said he noticed Brown’s athletic ability stood out.

Even as a rookie who is still green when it comes to NBA play, that athleticism and promise is evident. With this next week full of practices followed by three final preseason games, every minute players are on the floor matter for the coaches’ final evaluations. Every time Brown makes a play or shows that athleticism, it counts.

“He’s got a lot of versatility,” coach Rick Adelman said. “He’s a big guard, and I think he just needs experience. And he plays very hard. All four of those guys that we’ve been talking about have all had their moments. We’ll see how it goes this week.”

Price is one of those guys Adelman alluded to, yet while he fights for his own position on the team he can’t help but give Brown advice and guidance along the way. Price said he initiated conversations with Brown early on because he saw the rookie traveling the same path he has in years past. He saw Brown’s character, the humble way he goes about his business, and it reminded Price of himself.

“I try to bring teams together, camaraderie, things like that. I try to have a good relationship with anybody on the team,” Price said. “I did it with him, and I just liked him as a person…I wish him the best, and he’s going to be a good player.”

Those early conversations sparked what Brown said is a better relationship with Price than with any other teammate. Yes, he’s close with fellow rookies Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad—the trio went through Summer League together as rookies and are all going through the same transition into the league at the same time. And J.J. Barea helps, too. When Barea is guarding Brown during scrimmages or drills, he’ll be talking to him about where he should move the ball next or how to attack this particular defensive set.

But he and Price talk every day, he said. They talk over lunch, discussing the offense, defensive schemes or whatever on-court situation might come up.

It’s helping Brown along the way, because the league doesn’t slow down for anyone.

“It’s about being a professional at this point,” Price said. “It’s a grown man’s league. There’s nobody that’s going to bring you along or hold your hand at this point. So just trying to let him know that he’s doing good, he’s doing all right—regardless of what anybody says or what he thinks. He’s doing well.”

For Brown and Price, the number matched up just right. They’ve forged a bond here this preseason that will likely impact this rookie’s career as he goes along. Now, he’ll try to use the lessons he’s learning to create a spot for himself in this league.

“I adjusted pretty well—everybody is pretty cool,” Brown said. “No one has a bad attitude, no one is stuck up. I think that’s the good part about this team. You have guys like that who can help you adjust to things like that.”

For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.