Bruce Brown was the surprise starter after Reggie Bullock miss the season opener because of the flu. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Auburn Hills — Rookie Bruce Brown Jr. was so sure that he wasn’t going to play in the season opener that he told his mother to say home. That didn’t turn out quite how he planned.
After Reggie Bullock had a bout with the flu and was declared out, Brown went from being an inactive sitting on the bench in a sport coat to the starting lineup in his NBA debut. It turned out to be a whirlwind day but certainly something Brown could handle.
“I didn’t see my name on the board and I did walkthrough with the starters, and I still questioned whether I was starting,” Brown said. “I was happy. I just got ready and looked over the scouting report again.”
Things changed quickly and he didn’t have time to communicate with friends, but he said he didn’t have a lot of texts and messages on his phone after the game. Brown, a second-round pick, didn’t score, despite some good looks at the basket.
“It wasn’t that crazy — maybe if I scored,” Brown joked. “Other than that, it was fine. Everybody said I played great defense and to have fun out there.”
Pistons coach Dwane Casey noted that the fast pace made Brown look like “a wide-eyed rookie” as he was trying to keep up, but he excelled on the defensive end, keeping up with the Nets’ D’Angelo Russell. Though Brown is just a rookie, Casey said he could tell in Summer League that Brown was suited for the NBA at the defensive end.
“He washed away all my fears this summer, watching him in Summer League. We came into training camp knowing what he could do,” Casey said. “He’s very mature for his age and where he was drafted. The moment is not too big for him.
“At Miami, they used him as point-forward at the end of games, so he’s used to handling the ball in tough situations. He definitely can defend (four positions) and his energy on the ball I hope is contagious.”