From an outsider’s perspective, 2nd year wing Anthony Brown would’ve seemed like a certainty to make the Los Angeles Lakers roster for the 2016-16 That optimism was due to the team selecting Brown with the 34th pick in the prior year’s NBA Draft, in addition to him being looked as someone that could potentially evolve into a stable 3-and-D threat. However, any of that optimism seemed to vanish when you take a look at Brown’s actual production when he was in the Lakers system.
When you take a look at Brown’s overall work from the 2015 and 2016 NBA Summer League, 2015-16 NBA regular season and his NBADL stints with the LA D-Fenders, the 6’7 wing was never once able to shoot better than 29% from beyond the arc. That’s a significant departure from the player that shot 44% from beyond the arc as a senior at Stanford. Those struggles unfortunately led to the Lakers waiving Brown as their last move before they headed into the 2016-17 regular season.
To the confusion of most D-League fans, Brown entered the NBADL as a prospect for that year’s draft rather than as an affiliate player for the D-Fenders. For a player to be considered an affiliate, they must be on a new deal for the 2016-17 season. That eliminates Brown from being an affiliate player due to him being on the second year of a pre-existing deal.
Following that release from the Lakers, Brown immediately became the top prospect in the 2016 NBA D-League Draft. Although that D-League draft featured a diverse set of players, Brown’s status as a 6’7 3-and-D wing put him above any other NBADL prospect. That status was etched in stone when the Erie Bayhawks selected Brown with the 1st overall pick in the 2016 NBA D-League Draft.
A mere two weeks after that NBA D-League Draft, Brown has established himself as arguably the best player in the entire D-League. In the first two games of his Bayhawks career, Brown has came out of the gates with numbers that even the most optimistic fan would blush at. That status is due to Brown averaging 31.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6 assists per game 57% from the field and 67% from beyond the arc. That incredible efficiency has allowed Brown to have a 74% True Shooting Percentage after his first games with the team.
Before we go any further, I want to put a deep emphasis on the incredibly small sample size. As we’ve seen plenty of times in the NBA, college hoops or the D-League, players can have phenomenal starts to the season only to return back to normal or just struggle once the season evolves. However, we’re going to look past Brown’s incredible numbers and take a look a significant trend that he could realistically carry through his time in the D-League: facilitating.
As you can see from the above stats, Brown is averaging six assists during his first two games with the Bayhawks. That status is further emphasized by him maintaining a solid 1.71 Ast/TO ratio. The basis behind those two stats are due to how Brown has basically been working as the Bayhawks point forward during their initial two games. While the team has some stable facilitators in T.J Price and 2013-14 NBADL assist leader Lewis Jackson, Brown still managed to take that role and absolutely flourish.
That success is due to Brown’s ability to be a stable facilitator whether he’s working on the perimeter through drive-and-dish situations. In terms of his ability to work on the perimeter, Brown uses his big 6’7 frame to oversee the court and make the pass to an open teammate. An example of that is seen in the play below with Brown working the pick-and-roll with Cliff Alexander. After Alexander sets that initial pick, Brown waits for him to get in position before throwing a smooth bounce pass.
Another way that Brown can utilize his lanky 6’7 frame with his work as a drive-and-dish facilitator. By standing over the opposition, Brown can look over the court to find an inside presence that he can target while he’s driving towards the paint. In the process of that cut, Brown could make a driving chest pass to his teammate without worrying the ball potentially being out of reach. Those traits are seen in this clip below, where Brown cuts through the Blue defense before he makes a nice feed to the Bayhawks big.
While the season is still very young, Anthony Brown has likely established himself as the best prospect in the entire NBA D-League. For one, the 6’7 wing has been throwing fire from beyond the arc, a skill that likely changed his fate with the Los Angeles Lakers. In addition to that, Brown’s development into a viable point forward should intrigue any team around the NBA. If Brown continues to shine as a stable perimeter threat and a solid facilitator, we could be very close to him making his NBA return.