Shannon Brown can prove he’s more than a dunker with Phoenix Suns

PHOENIX — Throughout his NBA career, Shannon Brown has been known as one thing: a world-class athlete and dunker.

From the early part of his career when he bounced around between four teams in three years to the past two and a half seasons when he established himself on a Lakers team that won championships it was all about the dunks.

Despite those rings, even today Brown is perhaps best known for the “Let Shannon Dunk” campaign that aimed to get him invited to last year’s slam dunk contest.

Now as a member of the Phoenix Suns, Brown has a chance to prove he’s more than just a dunker.

He tried to do that last season, when he started the season hot from behind the arc, but his three-point shooting percentage dropped precipitously every month from October until March before an April uptick as Brown went from shooting the three at a 45.6 and 39.5 percent clip in November and December to 23.1 and 22.2 percent in February and March.

“I just turned into a jump shooter,” Brown said after his first workout with the Suns. “I was stuck on proving to everyone that I wasn’t just a dunker, just an athlete that when my shots were falling I just stuck with it instead of becoming a basketball player, so that’s what I’ve got to do. Nothing happened, I just turned into a jump shooter instead of a basketball player.”

Brown will see plenty of 3-point shots in a Suns offense that traditionally relies on long balls to space the defense, but now he has his opportunity to prove he’s more than an athlete, something that did not come so easily on a Lakers squad with so many established stars.

The fit was ideal on both sides, as Brown was made to run with Steve Nash and is expected to boost the defense with his physical gifts.

“We came to a mutual agreement that I’m thankful they wanted me here and I wanted to come here,” Brown said. “Their style of play fits how I play basketball. I love everything about it and we made it happen.

“It feels good that guys wanted me here and I wanted to be here to be a part of something that’s on the rise. It just feels good.”

In turn, Suns executive Lon Babby complimented Brown for being “willing to bet on himself” by signing just a one-year deal, with the insinuation being Brown feels he will perform well enough to sign a lucrative long-term deal next offseason.

As Brown attempts to take the next step in his career, luck would have it he’s got a fellow former Charlotte Bobcat reserve standing in his way of a starting job.

That would be the Suns’ incumbent starting shooting guard Jared Dudley, who rode the pine with Brown during the 2008-09 season before the Bobcats shipped both players to the Pacific Division.

Dudley said at the end of last season he fully expected to be the Suns’ starting shooting guard so long as they did not bring in an All-Star or an established veteran at the two guard spot that would be an obvious choice to start. With a mere 16 starts under his belt in 256 career games, that Brown is not.

Although JD believes he is the right guy to start, he welcomes the competition from Brown nonetheless.

“For me, first of all I never want anything handed to me,” Dudley said. “You have to work for it, and how I feel is the best person should always play. In the NBA it’s not always like that. If he deserves to start, he should start.”

Three years later both former Bobcats find themselves at similar points of their careers, although Dudley arrives with the security of a five-year deal whereas Brown has just the one season on his contract.

Both players want to prove themselves as legitimate starting NBA shooting guards, rather than just energy guys off the bench who can provide a spark as they both have mainly been throughout their careers.

Dudley in some ways is the anti-Brown, in that he has used his smarts, basketball IQ and a lethal shooting stroke to make up for his athletic shortcomings.  JMZ celebrated making 10 dunks all of last season whereas Brown routinely throws down 10 dunks in a season that could lead SportsCenter’s top plays.

The Suns would have a hell of a two guard if they could combine the strengths of Dudley and Brown, but as things stand they should deploy an effective shooting guard rotation with both players on a mission to establish themselves as starter-caliber players.

And 1

  • Brown on playing with Nash: “It’s unbelievable. I played a little five-on-five with him the other day, and the way he was finding me, finding other people it was unbelievable. He was tricking me, he was tricking his teammates, everybody was getting tricked and the ball was going the other way.”
  • Brown on what he brings to the Suns: “I think I bring a little bit of defense, a little bit of toughness, just going out there getting physical a little bit, awareness on the court. I do have two championship rings, so I was part of that and hopefully some of that can rub off on the guys.”
  • Gentry on Brown: “I think he’s a real athletic guy. Obviously he’s been on a winner and he knows what it takes to win championships. I just think he gives us another good athlete and I think he can become a very good defensive player, which is another think that was attractive to us, and just a good guy, I think he has some toughness that will also help our situation, so we’re excited about having him.”

Tags: Jared Dudley Shannon Brown

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    I think they should start the year with JMZ in the starting rotation along with Frye at the 4 so everybody is on the same page.

    I think Brown should be that attacking force for the second unit, with Morris and RoLo at the 4 / 5 and J-Chil at the 3.

    If RoLo can be the WCF run version of himself, it could be a fast and very defensive-minded second unit.

    Then, as the rookie and Brown get adjusted, if Nash needs a little more punch they can flip Brown and JMZ. JMZ is going to score his points regardless.

  • Mel.

    The one upside that Brooks offered over Dragic was exactly that; an aggressive, offensively-minded sparkplug for the second unit, who wasn’t hesitant about taking shots or blasting his way to the basket. I feel like Goran got so caught up in asking himself what Nash would be doing on every possession that he basically psyched himself out of the valley.

    Now, it looks like Brown could do the exact same thing. As I was mumbling about in other threads, he’s always had the trappings of a breakout star–somewhere between Cedric Ceballos 2.0 and a rebooted version of J-Rich–and if he and Telfair/Z can find some sort of offensive groove, it should make for a competent and exciting second line… which at least addresses one major issue from last season.

  • sun-arc

    I hear what you guys are saying above, but there is a part of me that wants to see Brown and Morris start to get them developed into our team by playing with Nash, AND to give the bench more punch with Dudz and Frye.

    But I would limit their minutes.

    To start the year, I’d try this:
    starter (min per half) / bench (min per half)

    nash (16) / telfair-Dowdell (8)
    brown (10) / Dudz (14)
    Hill (12) / Chill (6) / Warrick (6)?
    Morris (8) / Frye (16)
    Gortat (16) / Lopez (8)

    With the option of cutting lopez out of the rotation and moving Frye and Warrick down a position on that list if necessary.

    I’m really torn about Warrick because he showed some real ability at the end of last year, but I’m just not sure he fits into the rotation right now, depending on how Morris plays. If Morris defends, rebounds and hits the open outside shot, why would you play Warrick, unless you move him down to the 3 and plays better than Chilly. But if Warrick doesn’t rebound or defend, he’ll be out of the rotation quickly.

  • B. Cray Z.

    Very good plan there Sun-Arc.

    What the bench unit will need most is the return via trade of one or more of LB, Louis and/or Gogi.

    That will make it exciting for Dud & Frye. What hurt the Suns the most last year wasn’t losing STAT, but dismantling that killer 2nd unit. Hakim is too thin to play the 4. Make him a 3 & Josh a 3.

  • B. Cray Z.

    Very good plan there Sun-Arc.

    What the bench unit will need most is the return via trade of one or more of LB, Louis and/or Gogi.

    That will make it exciting for Dud & Frye. What hurt the Suns the most last year wasn’t losing STAT, but dismantling that killer 2nd unit. Hakim is too thin to play the 4. Make him a 3 (that will help BOTH his rebounding & “D” ) & Josh a 3. Don’t count out Siler who is now in shape to play. Just look at all the weight he’s lost. Make RoLo & Siler fight it out for back up 5 & see who is better backing up Hill between Hakim & Josh. Sooner rather than later, trade to get at least one of the bench guys back that we lost. This will do wonders for the play & the chemistry of the team.

    MUST get our former bench unit back!!!!

  • JZ

    How much weight has Siler lost? He is still listed at 305 lbs.

  • Suns Critic

    Fresh legs will be huge this year, having an athletic and cohesive 2nd unit will be a big plus in this condensed season.

  • Scott

    Is Josh better as a SG or a SF? From the posts on this board it’s clear people see him as a SF, but it’s been my impression that he’s actually best suited for the 2. While he can cover the 3 position, and is closer to the basket there, it doesn’t really play to his strengths.

    He’s a light-framed, tall, finesse SG without a shot, who is best at isolation defense, who has reasonable handling, driving, and passing skills. He’s not strong enough to defend against any but the smallest SFs, he’s not physical, he can’t protect the basket, and if he’s headed into the paint on offense, he’s probably going to need help when he gets there. And if he was to drive in and get fouled on his shot, he shot under 50% from FT last year, so defenses can feel ultra-confident when Childress has the ball, because all his points are going to be garbage points that happen when the defense gets lost.

    I’d try to use him as more of a back court facilitator, if he can do that, to take pressure off of Nash. Just give him a few simple plays and the ability to get it back to Nash to reload the offense.

    That, and he really needs to work on his shot. He’d be a ton more accurate, I think, if he’d hold his spot while shooting, as shown in the August player improvement video. Have him do his practice shooting from inside a bale of barbed wire or something. He’ll learn. ;)

  • steve

    Childress is definitely more of a forward than a guard. COULD he play a guard spot? Yes. I’ll definitely give you that, but I don’t think his ability to play the 2 makes him a 2. He’s just a versatile 3 who isn’t really all that small and definitely has a shot.

    At 6’8″, 210, he’s not really that small of a 3 by any stretch. A rare exception like LeBron makes Childress look like a twirp, but what 3 really focuses on a POWER game besides LeBron? I certainly don’t know of many. They’re mostly perimeter player and/or slashers. I don’t know of many threes who just keep pounding it inside until their defender breaks (LeBron doesn’t even do that in spite of the fact that he could every single time down the court and there is no one who can match him physically).

    Also, Chilly gets a bad rap for his shooting, and I’m definitely not going to say he’s a great shooter, but he is a FANTASTICALLY AMAZING selective shooter. He was second in the NBA in true shooting percentage twice (Nash was first one year, Amare was first the other year, oddly enough). The man picks his spots as good as anyone in the league when he’s given the opportunities. And despite his awful FT shooting last year, he’s still at nearly 80% on his career. The idea that Childress can’t be an effective shooter is simply a product of his nasty shooting motion, in my opinion. The numbers say he can shoot and that he is an extremely intelligent basketball player.

  • sun-arc

    I think what makes Chilly good (or at least chalked full of potential goodness) is his versatility. There are situations where he’s great as a 2 (particularly defensively) and others where he’s good as a 3. So, maybe Dudz can play behind Hill as a 3 when that makes sense? Not sure. Gentry has his work cut out for him.

    We’ve got Warrick that should be a 3, Chilly and Dudz that can play the 3. But Chilly, Dudz, Brown, and even Z can play the 2. Tons of ok to good players and not enough space for any of them to be great on the bench. But we know Dudz will get his playing time, and that is just fine.

  • Marley


    Shannon Brown’s the go-2-scorer the Suns needed! He’s the present and future of the Suns!

    Face it folks, the Suns are now at the bottom of cellar playing for the coveted #1 lottery draft pick.

    Mean while, Vince Carter will be winning an NBA championship this year! LOL

  • auggie5000

    one thing that sucks about this blog (and it’s mostly the commenter’s fault) is living in the past… We can’t get our old team back! and why would we want to? Let’s move forward. Former Suns are exactly that. Not Suns anymore.

    (endrant. thanks for listening.)

  • steve

    I agree, auggie5000. Past is past. Nothing can be done about it, and any sort of conjecture is worth about as much as a gallon of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and argon.

    I’m getting very sick of rehashing all of the old, tired arguments about what might have been. There is merit in discussing the failures of the present, and I don’t want to pretend as if people shouldn’t be crucified for their mistakes, but most of the negativity surrounding this franchise is speculative.

    If Donaghy… if Horry… if Amare… if Stern/Jackson… if Sarver… if JJ… IF RICHARDSON HAD REMEBERED BOXING OUT IS A PART OF BASKETBALL (this is the one that still gets me a little, no matter how hard I try to forget it)… if Marion… if Duncan

  • Mel.

    LOL. Good to see that Marley’s jumped onto the Dallas bandwagon without spraining his nuts in the process.

  • AL

    If Duncan hadn’t made that 3 to tie it up in the 2007 Western Semis Game 1 still gets to me to this day. Actually, that Spurs-Suns series still gets to me every now and then.