New Net Bruce Brown Has Been Defined by Defense

Third-year guard acquired from Pistons in three-way deal

There are no guarantees when you’re drafted in the second round. Take a look at Bruce Brown’s neighborhood from when he was selected 42nd overall in 2018. The player selected immediately prior has appeared in a total of 28 NBA games. The two selected right after him have never played in the NBA at all.

Meanwhile, Brown quickly established himself as a regular for a Detroit Pistons team that went to the playoffs at the end of his rookie season.

In fact, with 132 games — including 99 starts — Brown has more games and minutes played than any other second-rounder from the 2018 NBA Draft, and more than most from the back half of the first round as well.

“Really just come in and be a dog,” said Brown of his approach to securing an NBA role. “Obviously a second-round pick, thought I could have went higher. So, I went in with the mentality of knowing what I can do, knowing my role early, locking in on the defensive and really pave a way for myself to play a little bit.”

Brown will bring that approach to Brooklyn after he joined the Nets this week as part of a three-team trade with the Pistons and Clippers that also brought guard Landry Shamet to the Nets. He’s coming to a team that features more offensive firepower than the Pistons had the last two seasons with a mindset to keep grinding on the defensive end.

“That’s definitely going to be my role, I feel,” said Brown. “Scoring-wise, that’s (Kevin Durant), Kyrie (Irving), we’ve got Caris (LeVert), Joe (Harris). I think I just come in and bring a dog mentality on the defensive end and match up with the best offensive player every night.”

Brown is 6-foot-4, but has the length and strength — at 202 pounds — to guard multiple positions across wing players. At the NBA combine before the 2018 draft, he measured out as the strongest guard in attendance.

A highly touted high school player in New England, Brown played in the Jordan Brand Classic at Barclays Center in 2016, then played two seasons at the University of Miami. A foot injury during his sophomore season limited him to 19 games and likely affected his draft position.

But even at 6-4, Brown averaged 7.1 rebounds as a sophomore at Miami, along with 4.0 assists per game. He flashed those broad skills more in his second NBA season as well, averaging 4.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 28.2 minutes per game for the Pistons last season. Brown averaged 8.9 points and improved his 3-point shooting from 25.8 percent as a rookie to 34.4 percent last season.

“I think my playmaking ability,” said Brown of what he can bring beyond his defensive calling card. “I think if you watched me play this past year, I’ve showed flashes of doing a little bit of everything out there. I think I’m the only guard in Pistons history to have three games in a row with 10 rebounds, so I think I can do a little bit of everything out there, getting assists, and scoring if I need to.”

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