Brown readies for broader role by taking reins as Pistons point guard for Summer League
Garrett Ellwood (NBAE/Getty)
LAS VEGAS – The Pistons aren’t proceeding with their off-season roster construction as if they expect Bruce Brown to play a meaningful minute at point guard in 2019-20. But he’ll play it at Summer League for reasons that go beyond his future positional home.
“We want guys to be able to dribble and pass and shoot and for those younger players to develop into leaders,” Sean Sweeney said after the first Pistons Summer League practice wrapped up Tuesday morning. “So letting him handle the ball a little bit and then making good decisions is something that’s important.”
Brown got a taste of point guard as a Summer League rookie and Dwane Casey mused throughout the season that it could well be his future. But the Pistons are reported to have contract agreements with two veteran free-agent point guards and they’ll add another one via the draft when the moratorium ends on Saturday and ramifications of trades already announced are realized – likely a two-way contract signee.
So why put Brown in a different role than he projects to play during the NBA season?
Because it puts him in a leadership role, because it gives him experience at being put in decision-making situations and because it can only help the Pistons to have players other than their point guards capable of making plays off the dribble.
Improving as a perimeter shooter is the unquestioned focus of Brown’s off-season individual work, which began shortly after the playoff loss to Milwaukee and will resume when Summer League wraps up. These two weeks in Las Vegas are about rounding out the other parts of Brown’s offense.
“I feel really comfortable,” Brown said of his second Summer League. “The game slowed down a lot more. I’m making better reads. I’m just out here trying to pick defenses apart.”
Brown doesn’t flinch talking about his need to improve as a shooter after a rookie season that saw him make 26 percent of his 3-point tries while shooting them infrequently and, sometimes, hesitantly.
“I think if I come back next year shooting the ball well – better than last year – it’s going to make the game easier for Blake (Griffin). They’re not going to be able to double him as much. They left me all last year. Come back, shoot the ball well and he’ll be better.”
Sweeney, coaching the Summer League roster again, said the Pistons will also want to give Khyri Thomas and Svi Mykhailiuk – Brown’s fellow rookies last season who’ll likely start alongside of him in Las Vegas – chances with the ball in their hands.
“All those guys – Svi, Khyri, Bruce – trying to help them be on the floor in different positions to succeed,” he said. “They all have different strengths and they all have similarities in terms of what they can do. Try to play to those strengths and then, obviously, Summer League you try to teach. It’s a learning experience, so trying to help them develop weaknesses and turn them into strengths as well.”
It was at Brown’s first Summer League practice a year ago when Casey saw a “pit bull” – the same fearlessness that enabled Brown to go from the 42nd pick to a 56-game starter entrusted with guarding the NBA’s best perimeter scorers for a playoff team. Sweeney has seen Brown attack his first NBA off-season with the same approach.
“He’s done a good job,” he said. “The biggest thing right now is it’s mechanics, not makes, so you’re trying to make sure you’re doing a good job in terms of what the technique is fundamentally. He’s been working his butt off and you’re seeing progress in it.”