Shannon Brown provided solid scoring punch, but the Suns should not re-sign him

Posted by on May 28th, 10:26 am

PHOENIX — Shannon Brown signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Phoenix Suns last winter in large part to earn a bigger, long-term deal this offseason.

The thinking for Brown, 26, was that he could really show off his skills playing next to Steve Nash in the Suns’ open offense after putting himself on the NBA map with two and a half years in Phil Jackson’s triangle.

After an up and down personal season that Brown said mirrored the inconsistency of his team, the question is whether an NBA team saw enough to offer Shannon the kind of long-term deal he will now seek on the open market.

“I really don’t like going one year, you know what I mean?” Brown said. “Anything could happen with a one year, like at the beginning of the season where I wasn’t playing much, missed five straight games. If I don’t play the rest of the season, that could be my career.

“Knowing that I can play this game of basketball that would be tough, but it came back around. I don’t like doing one year. I’ve been doing one years for a while, so hopefully I get some years behind me.”

So what did Brown prove in his 66-game audition?

There’s no question he can score the ball. Brown averaged a career-high 11.0 points per game, including a 15.8 scoring average in 19 games as a starter that would have led the team if he had produced that prolifically all season.

Time and time again Brown ignited the Suns with a double-digit scoring quarter when he replaced Grant Hill in the starting lineup down the stretch. In this time he exploded for games of 32, 28 and 24 while finishing in single figures only three times in 17 games as he showed off his shooting stroke and ability to drive to the rim.

Playing in the starting lineup with Nash seemed to get his game under control as Brown proved to be a solid shooter with his feet set. Unfortunately all too often – especially early in the season — he also seemed to lead the Suns in bad shots that rarely connected, which is why he shot just 42.0 percent for the year.

“I think I came out and showed people that I could play the game of basketball,” Brown said. “One of the things about me they were saying this summer, ‘Oh, he can’t play out of the triangle, the triangle made him.’ I think I proved that wrong. I’m just trying to continue to get better as a basketball player, and I think I’m going to do that this summer.”

Despite his scoring prowess, Brown did not make the Suns better when he was on the floor.

According to the NBA’s stats tool, the Suns were 3.1 points per 100 possessions better when Brown sat (they had a -2.0 net rating when he played), and Basketball Value has Brown at a -5.10 adjusted plus/minus. According to Nerd Numbers, the Michigan State product produced a below average 0.035 WP48 for the season that improved to only 0.113 during those final 17 contests.

The lineup data paints Brown as a weak link as well. As you learned in last week’s Childress story, the Suns’ bench lineup of Bassy-Redd-Morris-Lopez improved by a whopping 46.7 points per 100 possessions over the course of the second half when Chilly replaced Brown after Shannon became a starter.

Brown similarly made the starters worse when he replaced Hill as the Nash-Dudley-Frye-Gortat starting lineup that dominated to the tune of a 12.5 net rating in 747 minutes over 45 games dropped to a 2.2 net rating in 353 minutes over 32 games with Brown in the lineup instead of Hill.

When you consider Brown’s desire for a long-term deal along with the fact that he did not exactly make the Suns better this season despite his scoring exploits, I would tell him thanks but no thanks when the free agency period begins in July.

Signing Brown to a long-term deal around the mid-level exception typifies the exact kind of deal they can’t make — and have promised they won’t.

This is especially true if the Suns re-sign Michael Redd as we have learned they do not work well in tandem according to the lineup data (-11.2 net rating in 259 minutes) and they both would be better off as the lone go-to guy in the second unit. Redd did a better job of meshing with that lineup and could perhaps be had for another one-year deal if the Suns go into powder-saving mode.

Nothing is as overvalued on the free agent market as scoring and because Brown is the kind of player who can get you 15 a game if you give him the requisite shots and minutes, somebody will pay him more money than they should.

“I would like to come back,” Brown said. “I understand it’s a business at the same time so whatever happens happens, but I’ve expressed my interest. … My plans might not fit other people’s plans, so I’ve just got to be prepared for anything.”

In other words, he’d be happy to come back if the Suns open the vault, but he’s not interested in signing the kind of deal that brought him to Phoenix.

Aside from the early February stretch when Brown fell out of the rotation for five games, both Brown and the Suns should be pleased with this winter’s signing.

The Suns received the kind of scoring punch their roster largely lacked and Brown got an opportunity to showcase his skills to set him up for the kind of payday he hopes he’s in for this summer.

Now the Suns must resist the temptation of keeping his scoring punch in the lineup, especially on a long-term deal.

And 1

Brown ranked ninth in the league on scoring off cuts, according to mySynergySports, averaging 1.48 points per play (with 44 in all) and shooting 80.6 percent. However, Brown scored just 0.74 ppp and shot 32.6 percent in isolations and tallied 0.77 ppp on 35.5 percent shooting as a pick-and-roll ball handler.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

Michael Schwartz founded ValleyoftheSuns in October 2008 and is the owner/editor emeritus of the site. He is currently working toward his MBA in sports business at San Diego State University.

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Tags: Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Analysis · Shannon Brown

21 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Shay // May 28, 2012 at 11:18 am

    yall need to cut the bullshit, this article is crap. Shannon Brown is a great player, how can u say he made the team worse. You say he didnt make the team better, im sorry but how can 1 player make a team better it has to be a joint effort. The SUNS just suck and yall just want someone to blame. Yall need to rebuild this team and get a more competent coach and stop trying to keep Steve Nash because we all know he’s out of PHX. He know he deserves better and so does Shannon. I hope neither one of them come back to this wack ass team. Yall just hate Shannon because 2 championship rings and the rest of the players have how many ….. so uhmmmm yea

  • 2 DBreezy // May 28, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Poignant

  • 3 Ty-Sun // May 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Lol, if Brown is a “great player”, Shay, why did the Lakers let him go AND why did no other team offer him a better contract deal than the 1 year offer the Suns made him? He definitely has NBA skills but those skills just didn’t really work well with the Suns. Between the two, I agree that Redd is the “keeper” for the Suns.

    By the way, who can forget that NBA powerhouse center, Will Perdue, who won 4 NBA championship rings with the Bulls and Spurs back in the 90′s. Surely he will go down as one of the NBA’s greatest players because he won 4 championship rings! Larry Bird only won 3 championships so certainly Will Perdue was a better player than Larry Bird! Shannon Brown has 2 championship rings… one more than Julius Erving! Certainly that makes Brown twice the player Erving was!

    Lol.

  • 4 Cam // May 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    “Y’all”. Shay, Your point of view may be more received if you didn’t use words like y’all and didn’t refer to the Suns as a “whack ass team”.
    There were times last season that Shannon Brown was absolutely frustrating. There were games though, that Shannon Brown seemed to excell on the floor. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Brown return but I don’t think he’s starter material. If the Suns get Michael Redd to return on a one year deal I think they should pass on Shannon seeing as he will want a multi year deal.
    Go Suns.

  • 5 Ryan // May 28, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Is Shay one of Shannon’s gf’s, or just a Laker troll? I think Shannon was a good signing last year at 3.5 one year. Not so much at a mid level 4 or 5 yr deal. I just don’t think the guys ceiling is much higher than what he did this season. I prefer a Mayo signing, or take a flyer on Anthony Randolph, even Beasley on a short term flyer would be good IMO. Plus if the Suns FO gets an Eric Gordon signing, no way they resign Brown. In the end I agree with Michael, I just don’t see where re-signing Brown makes sense.

  • 6 . // May 28, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Dun Worry…Suns getting Dwight this off season. Just sit back and relax. Sun’s winning the championship next season. xp

  • 7 Ty-Sun // May 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    In all seriousness, signing Brown to a one-year deal last year was a good move by the Suns. They got an aggressive player without spending too much on a lengthy contract. He played well but not well enough to offer him anything more than another one year contract IF the Suns can’t find someone else to fill his spot. If the price is right, I’d sign Mayo in a second, wave a fond farewell to Brown and hope he finds another team willing to give him the long term contract he wants.

  • 8 steve // May 28, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Guys, stop messing with shannon’s mom that way. She can’t help that she’s blind to his faults. She has to love him.

  • 9 Scott // May 28, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    I did not like Brown when he was signed, but after a long while he started to grow on me.

    However, the Suns can’t sign him to a long term deal based on his performance last season, which was a disaster in the first half, and only decent in the 2nd half.

    If – due to trades or whatever – the Suns wind up needing another person at his position next year, and if Brown is available, then sure, he could get picked up for another 1 year contract, as now he’s familiar with the offense, and that has value. But he can’t be signed for long term due to lack of consistent defensive intensity, infrequent trips to the foul line despite being a finisher, and poor passing (meaning he’d either keep the ball for a significant part of the shot clock, or turn it over on a bad pass).

    If he plays with the Suns for a full season next year, and shows decent improvement in those areas, then he could be considered for a longer contract.

  • 10 PennyAnd1 // May 28, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    When I read this article I had Daniel Bryan on the top of my head screaming “YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!”

    Finally a stat that proved me right! Brown sucks! period. Of course Brown provided scoring, that was his job. But I think anyone other than Brown can do a better job if given the go signal. One thing people should know about Brown. He is a good guy and all, but his Bball IQ is that if a highschool level. And he is very inconsistent & a rhythm killer.

    I mentioned this before & ill mention it again, there’s a good reason Lakers dropped Brown like a hot potato for nothing. Bring in Eric Gordon, Nash would definitely stay.

  • 11 sun-arc // May 29, 2012 at 8:34 am

    That first comment is definitely a LAL troll. Just ignore it.

    I will say, however, that I think Brown showed he is a pretty good player when given the chance. I think he could be a 4th or 5th best player on a championship team- but isn’t a good fit for us right now.

    I am curious what his advanced stats are for defense. Seems like if his +/- isn’t so hot, and he’s scoring, the problem would be defense. But I thought, with the eye-ball test, he was ok at D.

    Also- our starters had the highest +/- in the league when Hill was still playing. So, of course it’ll drop some when a new player is working into the rotation. I thought he did ok- but the D had to go down with Dudz covering the SF instead of Hill (and Brown covering SG instead of dudz). But fair is fair, and we weren’t as good with Brown in. Good reporting on that.

    Anyway- he made me like him ok by the end of the year. I think it was a great one-year signing by the suns, and for Brown. I hope it works out for him. But, yeah, we have to do better at our starting 2 position.

  • 12 steve // May 29, 2012 at 9:39 am

    I see Brown as nothing more than a scoring punch off the bench whose team can afford to sit him when he’s not hitting.

    There are a number of guys around the league who fill that role better than Brown, in my opinion, and right now, the Suns can’t afford to sit their “scoring punch” on the bench when he’s having an off night. They don’t have scorers in the starting lineup, so they can’t have the luxury of having a scorer on the bench. I like Shannon Brown. He’s an exciting, energetic player. For all the facepalms he put me through, I have to remember I have been facepalming the Phoenix Suns multiple times every single game I have ever watched. In all honesty, I don’t know if he’s that much worse than any type of replacement would be.

    The only question, as Michael points out well, is the money. Someone is bound to overpay for him. He showed just enough to make some desperate GM somewhere believe that Shannon Brown can be a quality starting 2 in this association.

    I think the Suns would be wise to offer Shannon a deal comparable to what he received last year. Anything more than that, Blanks and Babby should be happy to have Shannon be someone else’s headache.

  • 13 Scott // May 29, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    @sun-arc -

    My impression from watching the games is that while Brown occasionally had moments of good defense, a lot of the time he was not playing his man properly or was not even near his man.

    Now maybe some of that comes from being with a new team in a new defensive scheme. But look at what first Price and then Telfair did, when they were also new to the system and team. So I’d have to say Brown was just not playing defense with the proper skill and intensity on every play.

    Could he do it? Maybe. I don’t know if his problem is low defensive IQ, a lot of bad habits, or what. Was he playing better defense as the season went on? He had better defensive moments, because his energy became more intense after he became a starter, he started hitting his shots, and he started to feel like he was responsible for winning games (a greater sense of ownership), but I can’t say with confidence that he was actually improving defensive positioning and choices. He might have been simply trying a little harder on specific “buckle down” type plays.

    @steve -

    Two things … 1) There may be other scorers in the league, but will they be available to the Suns, and can they play within the Suns’ system. Brown was difficult to work in, but once the Suns and Brown made the right adjustments, they started being able to milk him for what he had. If Brown returns – preferably not on a long contract – at least the Suns and Brown know how to make it work on the court already.

    2) There is the assumption Brown proved something to the league. This same assumption was made with Amundson (that he’d merit a $4 million contract with more years), and it proved wrong. So I would carry no such assumption about Brown. The league’s opinion of Brown probably has not changed, just as the opinion of Amundson hasn’t changed.

  • 14 Tony // May 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I completely agree with Michael that the Suns should pass on Brown. In addition to what Michael said, we have to remember that for Brown, he was basically audtioning for a long-term contract this season. As such, would he have the same motivation and committment to improving his game once he gets the contract he’s seeking? I’ve seen it too many times, in which a player is only at his best during his contract year. Furthermore, for a guy playing for his next contract, Brown didn’t exactly show off his skills. He took so many bad shots, didn’t seem to have any concept of what a pass is, and his defense wasn’t as good as expected.

    Since none of the available top players that potentially could be traded this off-season, such as Gasol or Lowry, have shown any interest in playing for the Suns, it’s most likely the team will be horrible next season. As such, it makes no sense to sign Brown to a long-term deal and eat up some of their cap space.

    I guess only time will tell what the Three Stooges decide to do to improve this team. Right now, their only legitimate starter is Gortat and with likely so many new faces on the roster next season and such little team chemistry, it’s difficult to see how this team will even break 30 wins next season. I suppose the one positive of resigning Brown is that he at least knows the system and may help the new players transition to the team easier.

  • 15 Tony // May 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    By the way, not to go too much off-subject, but Boris Diaw is providing the Spurs quite a lift. I guess Babby’s comments regarding not showing Diaw much interest in bringing him aboard despite Nash’s wishes, that the Suns didn’t want to look to the past, further illustrates the incompetence of the Suns’ FO. Diaw is more than proving his value to the Spurs and will likely get his first championship ring by the end of this season. So way to go Babby, you save a few dollars in the short run by not picking him up but will lose big when the only fans who show up to Suns home games will be the opposing teams’. I’m sure Sarver won’t be appreciative of such an empty arena!

  • 16 PennyAnd1 // May 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    @Tony

    I completely agree with you about Diaw. The reason why Nash pushed to get Diaw was because Diaw has a high bball IQ. Nash relishes playing side-by-side with high bball IQ players, and the same can be said about Diaw. The reason Diaw didn’t do so well playing at Charlotte was because he was surrounded by dumb___.

    It was a real misfortune to NOT pick up Diaw. It could’ve made a big difference. That’s why I pick Spurs to win it all this year. It’s all about IQs. You can have all the talent in the world..but in the end, it’s mind over matter. That’s why Suns should get Nash back and surround him with smart IQ players who knows how to play, not guys like Gortat, Brown, or Warrick (Gortat is ok, just because of his hustle & rebounds pays off for his lack of IQ).

  • 17 Scott // May 29, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Diaw is the point forward that management earlier tried to provide with Turkoglu. The commitment was much larger to Turkoglu than to Diaw, so I don’t know what the philosophical problem was in taking Diaw back, except that they didn’t want to backtrack with players.

    Also, don’t get too attached to the idea of any Suns player (Gortat, Dudley, whoever) returning, in that it could be none of thosae currently under contract will be back next year.

    Blanks may feel that he needs to completely remake the team in order to see his vision as GM fulfilled.

  • 18 PennyAnd1 // May 29, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    @Scott

    I don’t mind trading Gortat if it brings back a better finisher down the ring who can also rebound (with high bball IQ). But I definitely don’t like the idea of trading Dudley. Dudley has high bball IQ (man with no athleticism but yet is starting). Dudley is the perfect role-player the Suns can have.

  • 19 Scott // May 29, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    @Penny -

    And yet the Suns may have to give up Dudley to get a star.

    We’ll see.

  • 20 kkay // Jul 12, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    Shannon is a good player, has alot of energy, and proved that hes a good player, I think he should be given a chance to stay

  • 21 Shannon Brown deal could provide minimal future cap pain // Jul 21, 2012 at 11:25 am

    [...] When I first heard about the deal I was pretty bummed because I felt the Suns needed to do better at the two guard spot than a player who shot 42 percent and made some of his most played in lineups significantly worse, as I wrote in my season review of Brown. [...]

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