'I'll make plays': Pistons' Bruce Brown confident he'll continue to make strides in his game
In his second season, Bruce Brown made some strides from his uneven rookie campaign.
Brown boosted his production to 8.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4 assists, as he was called upon to play a more versatile role, with injuries to Luke Kennard and Derrick Rose. The biggest jump, though, was in his 3-point shooting, which jumped from 26 percent to a respectable 34 percent.
It’s part of Brown’s evolution, where he’s looking to carve out minutes and lead the young core of Pistons that includes Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya, Svi Mykhailiuk and Khyri Thomas. Brown became the Pistons’ best on-ball defender, but his improved 3-point shooting from the corners is getting him more opportunities to just be on the court.
After coach Dwane Casey envisioned some work last season for Brown as a point guard, the focus is shifting to just being an effective wing player on both ends of the court. That’s where a big chunk of his offseason work has come.
“Really, it's the same, just shooting from above the break mostly this offseason, and then continue to work on the corner,” Brown said Friday. “I think I'm just a basketball player — just put me on the floor and then I'll make plays. I don't care where I'm at. I can play (power forward) or (center). I don't really mind; as long as I'm on the floor, I can help this team.”
Brown and the Pistons are finishing their first week of their mini-bubble in Detroit, before ramping up to phase two next week, where they’ll be able to do group workouts and 5-on-5 drills for the first time since the season shut down on March 11.
The Pistons didn’t participate in the regular-season restart and at 20-46, weren’t in position for the playoffs either. The pandemic has limited their basketball activities to one-on-one work with coaches, but Brown took an opportunity to get away from basketball in the midst of the six-month break because of COVID.
“I think it was good for me honestly to get away from the game for a little bit, just to clear my head. I actually went up to New Hampshire, for like two weeks and got away from the game,” Brown said. “I was right on Lake Winnipesaukee, so it was great for me. The toughest part is getting into a gym during all of this. That was tough, but I think getting away from it a little bit was great for me. And now being back in the gym is amazing.”
In addition to the individual work, Brown said he’s been playing some five-on-five in a secluded gym when he’s traveled back to his hometown near Boston. That’s helped him to stay in tune with game speed and to put some of the work he’s done into practice.
During individual workouts, players don’t get to see each other much, but Brown has been peeking in the gym to get a glimpse of what some of the other young players have been doing during the summer and their progress toward next season.
Brown has maintained a close bond with Doumbouya and likes what he’s seen so far.
“(Doumbouya) is working hard. He's got something to prove this summer, coming in with a chip on his shoulder,” Brown said. “He's working on his game hard; he's working on big-man stuff and guard stuff. He's definitely put in the work and it's going to be a good year for him.”
Casey said this week that he’s been working on some tweaks to the defensive scheme for next season, which could include playing more zone defense. When Casey was with the Dallas Mavericks, they played a bit more zone, and as he’s watched the playoffs, he’s seen more teams have success with it.
Brown, as he’s tried to focus on his defensive principles, is in favor of adding some more zone to the repertoire.
“I'm fine with that,” he said. “That gives me a little break where I don't have to pick up 94 (feet) every time and I can get back in the zone, so I'm cool with that.”