4) The Markel Brown Era.
Let’s start with the most fun thing that’s come out of the Nets in a long time:
With Bojan Bogdanovic sidelined by a sprained ankle, Hollins elected to insert Markel Brown in the starting lineup. We talked a bit about the four-wide lineup earlier, and Brown’s made a real contribution to that.
For one, he’s an athletic freak. Brown listed a 43.5″ vertical at the NBA Draft Combine, meaning he could clear the average five-year-old child completely in a single bound. He’s also long-armed and quick and, at least early on, has known when to gamble: Brown’s put up four multi-steal games in his first four starts, and played admirable defense on MVP candidate James Harden, denying him the ball up and down the court and maintaining a physical presence that helped bother Harden into an off shooting night, despite his late heroics to seal a Rockets victory.
Think about that. He’s a rookie, and in one of his first NBA starts, he has to guard an MVP candidate… And his assignment shoots 4-for-15 on the night, mostly with Brown as his primary defender. He kept down in his defensive stance, fought around screens and trip-ups, and bothered Harden into taking step-back jumpers or led him directly into help defense. No small feat.
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Brown has his limitations. He’s not a great long-range shooter yet, though his smooth form and high release are a good sign for his long-term prospects there. He also doesn’t have a lot of touch away from the basket. But on a team that relies so heavily on floaters, it’s nice to see someone who can actually float.