Brown justifying Casey’s vision of him as he leads Pistons to Summer League romp
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LAS VEGAS – Saturday was the day that Dwane Casey’s vision of Bruce Brown’s future came into focus for those of less foresight.
The wire-to-wire 93-73 win over Portland on Saturday was a Bruce Brown Production all the way. He racked up six assists in the first six minutes, by which time the Pistons already held a double-digits lead, and finished with 17 points, 10 assists, three rebounds, three blocked shots and a steal.
“He was great today,” Svi Mykhailiuk said. “I feel like he was the best player on the court – just getting everybody looks, getting his, playing defense. He played great today.”
Mykhailiuk was pretty good, too, finishing with 18 points and four assists while hitting 4 of 10 from the 3-point arc as the Pistons went to 2-0 in Summer League. Khyri Thomas didn’t shoot it as well as he did in Friday’s opener, when he hit 7 of 14 from the arc to finish with a game-high 26 points, but his plus-19 was second only to Brown’s plus-24 as the three rookies from last season continue to put their bid in for playing time in 2019-20.
They’ve also been at the center of instilling a sense of team from a group that only came together five days ago.
“I think they’re trying to do a good job of leading,” said Sean Sweeney, Casey’s assistant and coach of the Summer League roster. “Any team you’re on, you want to have a team full of leaders and encourage those guys. We can say stuff and that’s great, but it means a whole lot more when it comes from them.”
Brown’s take-charge performance and the way he dissected Portland’s defense, consistently penetrating the paint and spotting open shooters or taking the ball to the rim, though, was the clear takeaway from Saturday’s game. He never looked more like a point guard than he did in Saturday’s win.
“He did a really good job of reading the defense, especially in pick and rolls,” Sweeney said. “I thought he did a better job today of going from slow to fast, but then also from fast to slow. Yesterday he did a good job of changing speeds but once he got going, it was all downhill. Today he was able to accelerate, slow down a little bit, let that big catch up and then pick ’em apart, whether it was the roller or to the weak side.”
The only think Brown didn’t do well was shoot from distance – he was 0 of 3 from the 3-point arc. But with all the Pistons are asking of him in Summer League – not only shouldering the burden of running the offense but continuing in his rookie role of guarding the opposition’s top perimeter threat – they won’t put much stock in his 3-point shooting from Summer League games.
“I’m not focusing on that right now,” Brown said. “It’s like 33 percent of my summer (that’s elapsed so far). I still have – what? – four months before the season starts? It’ll be ready during the season.”
“The off-season, it’s mechanics, not makes,” Sweeney said. “You’re trying to improve your mechanics, work on your technique, make it habitual and then you go from there. As long as he’s taking shots the way he’s working on them, then makes will take care of themselves.”
The Pistons have covered themselves more than adequately at point guard, signing two free agents to go with Reggie Jackson. But Casey wants multiple ballhandlers and playmakers on the floor as often as possible and Brown is showing in Summer League that Casey’s faith in his future as a point guard is well founded.
“I think I can play point guard,” he said after running his two-game totals to 17 assists and four turnovers. “I think I can run a team and, as you see, I think I can distribute the ball.”