The Los Angeles Lakers are trekking through another disappointing season holding one of the league’s worst record. This has made for a prime opportunity for the team to rely more heavily upon their youth with the chance to gain valuable experience.
This has given way to ample playing time to their youth in different stretches through the first third of the season. Second-year forward Julius Randle has been quite productive in his first full season averaging a near double-double with 11.6 points and 9.5 rebounds per game despite being relegated to the bench in early December.
Rookie guard D’Angelo Russell has also played well through the move to the bench with Randle putting together a strong month of December averaging 13.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.6 assists. This includes posting his first career double-double and scoring a career-best 24 points against the San Antonio Spurs. He also notched double-figure points 13 times, knocking down multiple three-pointers on 10 occasions, and had at least one steal in 13 contests last month.
The Lakers other 2015 first-round pick in forward Larry Nance Jr. has seemed to have found his groove over the last four games averaging close to a double-double with 10.8 points on 70 percent shooting from the field (21-of-30) with 9.5 rebounds. This includes recording his first career double-double, scoring in double figures twice, and grabbing a career-high 14 rebounds against the Philadelphia 76ers in Friday’s win.
However, the same cannot be said about the team’s third choice from team’s 34th overall pick in former Stanford forward Anthony Brown. The 23-year-old is averaging 2.0 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 0.6 assists in eight games played this season. He has played in sporadic minutes with the Lakers when he has taken the floor with two out of his three outings playing 20-plus minutes have come with Kobe Bryant out of the lineup.
That said, the Lakers have kept Brown’s legs fresh with his a few stints with the team’s D-League affiliate, Los Angeles Defenders, where is averaging 14.6, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in seven games played. He has notched five double-digit performances, including two 20-plus point outings.
In light of that, he put together his most productive game of the season with the Lakers scoring five points on 2-of-3 shooting with five rebounds, and one steal in 22 minutes while filling in for Bryant in the team’s 93-84 win over the 76ers. Following the game, head coach Byron Scott praised Brown’s play on defense and his ability to knock down open looks.
“He didn’t try to force anything,” Scott said. “He did the exact thing we want him to do which is guard.”
Scott also noted that Brown will likely see his role expand to about 20 minutes a game as the season rolls along, but didn’t give a timetable for when that will transpire. Although there wasn’t an exact time frame for when he will see role increase, it’s encouraging to see that it’s in the plans this season.
Brown had developed into a solid NBA prospect in his four seasons with Stanford. He was named an All-Pac 12 Honorable mention last season, and Pac-12 Most Improved Player of the Year as a redshirt junior. He also put together a strong senior campaign averaging 14.8 points and team-high 6.9 rebounds while shooting 43.1 percent from the field and 44.1 percent from 3-point range.
What has also helps him is that he possesses the ideal size and length to play the wing position in the NBA at 6-foot-7 with a 6-foot-11.5 inch wing span. He isn’t an explosive athlete but he has fluidity in his game, a decent shooter that excels most in catch and shoot situations, and can be a factor in transition.
He needs consistent playing time in order to develop his game to adapt to the NBA level in his rookie campaign. The fact that he has been getting games in with the Defenders does help the process but he isn’t playing anywhere near the same talent level in the NBA.
It would certainly be more beneficial for his personal growth to receive that time on the floor sooner than later as it will allow him to find his comfort level earlier in the season. This would also provide him with a larger amount of NBA experience to build on moving forward into his second campaign.
All in all, if the Lakers want to see what Brown can do at this level a consistent role off the bench playing meaningful minutes would go a long ways in helping determine that.
Bob Garcia IV
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