Feb. 20, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Shannon Brown during game against the Washington Wizards at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Wizards 104-88. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Shannon Brown The Next Jason Richardson?

Jan. 6, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard (26) Shannon Brown dunks the ball in the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Trail Blazers 102-77. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

During media day when Suns TV co-host Tom Leander interviewed Shannon Brown and Leander was highly impressed with Browns play by making the comparison between Brown and Jason Richardson.

From a skillset stand point, Brown and Richardson certainly possess some similar basketball attributes but Brown isn’t by any means a player of Richardson’s caliber; although Richardson would be the perfect player for Brown to model his game after. But as of this moment the only similarity between Brown and Richardson is that both guys can jump out of the gym.

Richardson is a great 3-point marksman with a career 3-point % of 37% and averages about 5 3-point attempts a game opposed to Brown’s career 3-point % of 34%. Richardson is also a pretty good rebounder for a two guard by using his athleticism to grab rebounds whereas Brown averages about 4.5 rebounds every 40 minutes of play compared to Richardson’s career average 5.8 per 40 minutes. That may not seem like a lot but 1.3 rebounds over the course of 82 games become 106 rebounds, but that’s a huge difference.

I’ve discussed this at length throughout this off-season regarding Brown’s poor free throw rate, with Brown’s athleticism and good touch from the foul line, he should be shooting more than 99 free throws after playing in 59 games last season.

That should be one of the main focal points for the Suns offense this season, getting to the free throw line. Even Marcin Gortat who spent most of his time working near the basket, averaged only 3.8 free throw attempts a game, that’s pathetic.

Ever since the departure of Amar’e Stoudemire the Suns have lack that aggressive player on offense who barrels into opposing defenses drawing fouls and creating problems for the other team. The Suns ability to get to the foul line was so poor that, Hakim Warrick actually led the Suns in free throw rate averaging about 7.8 attempts from the foul line per 40 minutes; and Warrick didn’t play in 31 games.

Alvin Gentry told the media that the Suns were going to continue to push the ball but know this, if the Suns can’t get to the free throw line, they certainly won’t have an elite offense like they did from 2004-2010. The Suns should try to take a page out of the Denver Nugget’s book in this situation.

Shannon Brown is expected to play a bigger role in the Suns offense this season, and if he wants to make a bigger contribution he’s got to make improvements in two areas of his game. Getting to the free throw line and rebounding. Brown can knock down 3s as he showed by draining 41% from behind the line as a starter, but if he wants to take his game to the next level those two areas is what he needs to work on.

Brown has a huge tendency to settle for long 2-point attempts. One third of Brown’s shot attempts in 2011-2012 came from jumpers between 16-23 feet but made only 35% of those shots which pretty much explains why his free throw rates are so poor. Forcing up long 2s makes life a lot harder on himself and his teammates especially since he doesn’t make a lot of them.

Bottom line, Brown has the ability to become a much better player than he is now; between his athleticism and shooting touch from the outside, he has the tools. I’m not saying he’s going to be an all-star by any means but he can definitely become a player of Richardson’s caliber which would not only benefit the Suns but it’d do wonders for his career. Brown should have a lot of incentive to improve, he only has two years on his contract with the Suns that pays about 7 million overall, and by the time his contract expires he’ll be 28 years old. A couple of high production years will certainly earn him a nice pay-day come free agency 2014.

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