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Bruce Brown knows what he can do for Brooklyn

'We're going to be really good,' says new Nets guard

December 8, 2020 John Torenli
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Bruce Brown knows he’s not one of the featured names on the Barclays Center marquee.

And he’s certainly not as big an attraction as James Harden, if the Houston Rockets’ superstar ever gets here.

But Brown, the Nets’ newly acquired veteran guard, believes his contribution and those of Brooklyn’s other lesser-known reserves will play an important role in helping the franchise toward its first-ever NBA title this coming year.

“There’s definitely going to be nights that [Kevin Durant], Kyrie and all of the guys need a rest,” said Brown on Monday as the Nets continued training camp ahead of the most-anticipated campaign in team history.

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“So guys like me, whoever else comes off the bench can be ready and play. I’ve started the whole time I’ve been in the NBA, so I have experience out there. I’ve played in playoff series, so I know what to expect and I’m going to be ready for it.”

Brown and fellow third-year NBA guard Landry Shamet were brought here via a three-team trade on draft night to further enhance the Nets’ already-stacked bench after rumors regarding the potential acquisition of Harden were least temporarily quelled.

With Durant and Irving likely to gobble up a lion’s share of the scoring load and Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert filling it up behind the superstar tandem, Brown, who is known as a defensive-minded guard, is well aware of his place in the Brooklyn rotation.

And if he isn’t, first-year head coach Steve Nash shed some light on the 24-year-old Boston native’s role following the team’s second full team practice.

“I think he’s a defensive player at this point,” Nash noted of the former Detroit Piston, who was selected by that organization in the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft.

“You know the offensive game is something he’s still developing,” Nash added. “So we have to be patient with him as he continues to work on his playmaking and shooting. But he competes, is a good defender, and he can grow in offensively as well. So he’s got an opportunity to continue to get better on both sides of the ball, make an impact.”

Brown, who averaged career bests of 8.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game last season for the Pistons, was admittedly impressed with the talent level around him in his new environs.

“We’re going to be really good,” he gushed. “Everybody can do everything. Scoring-wise, everybody can score. Everybody can play defense. The sky is the limit for us, man. We’re going to go out there and play, do what we’ve got to do, but this is definitely the best team I’ve probably ever been on.”

Brown did reach the postseason as a rookie with Detroit, but the Pistons were swept out of the first round of the 2019 playoffs by Milwaukee.

Last year, the Pistons only managed 20 wins and failed to receive an invite to the NBA’s bubble site in Orlando, Florida, where the Nets were knocked off by Toronto in the opening round of the postseason.

Those types of finishes won’t be accepted here in Brooklyn as the Nets are emerging as a favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference in 2020-21.

But all Brown can do is what he’s done for the first two seasons of his career; play superior defense and lend a hand on offense when he can.

“We have to be patient with him,” Nash reiterated of Brown. “He’s a player that is coming into a team with a lot of talent.

“For him to find a role I think it really comes down to his continued development, because there’s so many talented players out there and such a deep roster that he’s going to have to use that competition and that depth as a way to really put pressure on himself to develop.”

Shamet, who is known primarily for his 3-point shooting touch, hopes to provide Brooklyn with a scoring option when Durant and Irving are being pressured by opponents to give up the ball.

“It’s not as much what they create for me, but what I can do to help make their lives easier,” said Shamet, who has shot better than 40 percent from long range during his first two seasons in the league with Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Clippers.

“It definitely does make your life a lot easier when you’re playing with a guy like Kevin, who’s got all five pairs of eyeballs on him from the other team every possession. Kyrie the same thing, great passers, smart guys, like I said, willing passers and they play the right way. We definitely benefit a lot but I want to make their life easier, too.”

The Nets already have a sharpshooter to take the heat off Durant and Irving in newly re-signed free agent Joe Harris, arguably the best long-distance threat in the East.

But Shamet isn’t just going to be waiting around for an open shot when he hits the hardwood.

He knows that after finishing 10th in the league last year in defensive rating, the Nets are looking to move up the charts in terms of stymieing opposing defenses.

“Where the game is going, man I’ll be everywhere,” said Shamet. “I’ll be in switches, I’ll be guarding mismatches. I’ll be off the ball in help. I’ll be on the ball guarding pick and rolls. Think that’s something you’ve got to be able to do in this league, be a versatile defender, be smart in whatever position you’re in.

“That’s one thing we’ve all talked about. Steve’s made a really big emphasis on defense, a couple nuances and changes that I haven’t seen before that are exciting just because they are a little outside the box and are forward-thinking. So we’re learning and moving in the right direction.”

And doing so as they learn not only one another’s games, but personalities as well.

“This is a new team coming together, new guys trying to figure each other out,” Shamet said.

“It’s just a matter of coming together, getting to know each other, being unselfish and playing the right way and we’ll figure it out.”

Superstar James Harden is still waiting to figure out whether he’ll be playing in Houston or Brooklyn in 2020-21. Photo: Mark J. Terrill/AP

Nothing But Net: Harden did not report to Rockets training camp and is still holding out and hoping for a trade to Brooklyn, leaving Nash to answer questions about a potential deal during the Nets’ team workouts in Sunset Park. “I guess we let the elephant [in the room] be,” Nash told the New York Post. “I love our guys and hopefully they all feel really valued and wanted and respected. We have so many guys that bring so much to the table.” … Brooklyn will open its two-game preseason slate Sunday evening against Brown’s former team from Detroit at 5 p.m. at Barclays Center, which will not permit fans.

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