What can Shannon Brown do for you?

At this time last year, the Phoenix Suns’ roster was an island of misfit toys. The team was full of disparate pieces who made almost no sense together. Some of the pieces were lovable and loyal (Jared Dudley and Luis Scola). Some of the pieces were more trouble than they were worth (Michael Beasley). And in the end, the team performed exactly like one would expect a band of misfits to perform, and the Suns lost 57 games. Enter Ryan McDonough.

McDonough gave the Suns’ house a very thorough cleaning this summer. The Suns parted ways with several players who had no part in the their future. McDonough ably replaced them with young, hungry players. Now the team is primed for the future. Nearly everyone on the roster is on a rookie contract or has some serious trade value in the upcoming season. The lone exception seems to be Shannon Brown.

Brown is a holdover from a bygone era – the time between the run to the 2010 Western Conference Finals and the day Ryan McDonough was hired. It was a time when the Suns were totally bereft of direction and identity. His presence on this Suns team seems nearly as outdated and out of place as my hacky title to this piece.

The Suns initially signed Brown as a flier to see if he could be anything more than he had been in LA. After it became clear he was who he had always been, Brown seemed destined to leave the desert. But the Suns had no other options after striking out on Eric Gordon and O.J. Mayo in the summer of 2012, and so Phoenix signed Shannon for another two years. Now, on a roster full of youth and movable veterans, Brown stands out like a sore thumb.

At the outset of the regular season, Shannon’s de facto role will be as the first guard off the bench. Just as he did in last night’s game against the Clippers, Brown will most likely spell Goran Dragic at the shooting guard spot, while the Suns’ endless list of young point guards will all get a shot at spelling Eric Bledsoe. But how long can Brown hold onto this role and his minutes? That remains to be seen.

Brown is seemingly standing in the way of rookie Archie Goodwin. Goodwin is very young and still has a long way to come as a pro, but all signs seem to indicate that he is dedicated to the development process and trusts the organization a great deal. If Goodwin shows any flashes of what he did in the Vegas Summer League, he might be the first guard off the bench sooner rather than later.

Another aspect that might limit Brown’s playing time as the season wears on is his outside shooting. Brown has always been more of a slasher than a floor spacer. While he has had some brilliant games from beyond the arc for the Suns, he’s hasn’t been a consistent three-point threat at any point in his career. He’s also coming off a season where he shot just 27.7% from three. The Suns are coming off a miserable year from downtown as a team, and that is certainly an area they will look to improve this season. Better outside shooting will give Marcin Gortat more room to operate in the paint as well as provide better driving lanes for Bledsoe and Dragic. Because Brown is not a consistent three-point threat he may lose minutes to other guards who are. Phoenix is likely to keep Dionte Christmas and/or James Nunnally on the regular season roster. I could easily see Brown giving way to one of them in the lineup as they are both much better shooters.

So what can Brown really do for the Suns this year? At 27 years of age, he still has great athleticism. It’s definitely possible that he could buy in to Coach Hornacek’s defensive system and earn his playing time on that end of the floor. But there’s little in Brown’s past to suggest that will happen. If Archie Goodwin doesn’t come along as quickly as expected, Brown might be able to carve out a niche as bench scorer/instant offense type of player. But in order to pull that off, he’ll have to improve on his 42% shooting. What seems most likely is Brown playing 8-12 minutes a night and serving as guard depth in case someone is injured. He has shown the ability, when called upon, to step into a starter’s role and perform admirably over the last two seasons. Another possibility is Brown being included in a trade for Marcin Gortat should Phoenix want to sweeten a deal with an extra expiring contract.

The outlook may not be pretty for Brown, but then again, this isn’t expected to be a pretty season for Phoenix. Even with the team’s new direction, and all the new additions, Phoenix is still a ways away from competing. The difference is that for the first time in a long time, the future in the desert is bright.

Tags: Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Analysis Shannon Brown

  • Ty-Sun

    I agree. Whenever I look at the Suns’ roster I can’t help but wonder why is Brown still there? Keeping him as a potential trading chip in a potential deal for Gortat makes some sense but it’s a “maybe-maybe” situation. Maybe the Suns should keep him because maybe he might be valuable in a future trade… that – again – maybe the Suns will make.

    Brown could be a good contributor off the bench for a better team. For the Suns – or any rebuilding team – he’s just dead weight.

  • Nicole101

    The Suns Screwed Brown & I’m so happy he called their asses out last year. When your constantly yanked in & out of different lineups & out of rotation, how do people expect you to stay consistent. I mean they pulled Dudley from the starting unit & his stats became invisible, he was a non factor for the Suns off the bench. What the Suns should have done was release Brown or traded him before training camp. The best thing the Suns can do for Brown now is put him in the trade with Gortat & get him out of Phoenix.

  • Luka

    Brown sucks. The sooner he’s gone the sooner the Suns can get back to respectability. If he’s not jacking up bad shots he’s driving out of control to the basket.


    i think hes trade fodder.

  • Scott

    Was keeping Brown an actual mistake on the part of McD?

    I’m inclined to think it is. I realize there might be reasons like “we want to make sure we have an attractive product on the floor, and Brown is an athlete who can wow the crowd” or “the team needs some veterans to show the young guys the ropes” … but let’s be honest. Brown isn’t going to do much in either of these areas. He’s most likely going to sit on the bench and sulk.

    The Suns could have used the spare $1m and the roster spot to give another young player a chance.

    I also think picking Alex Oriakhi was a mistake by McD. It would have been better to find a foreign prospect and take a chance. Sometimes it pays off and you get a Gortat or a Scola or a Ginobili.

  • Scott

    @SHAZAM -

    Brown looks like trade fodder compared to most of the Suns because he has a 13 PER and that’s higher than about 2/3s of the team. But on other teams … why trade for a bench guy who is not much of a scorer or defender?

    If he can be traded, do it.

  • DBreezy

    I wasn’t in favor of keeping Brown, but in a new cba world of not only increased LT penalties, but minimum roster payroll I can see why someone might keep a guy like Brown around. Boston and Memphis made a seemingly meaningless trade this summer for similar reasons.

    While he may get burn early on, I can’t see Shannon playing much overall. He’s pretty much fallen out of favor pretty quickly with every coach he’s played for. He was in the doghouse here until injuries gave him a late run in 2011-2012, only to be back in the doghouse last season for both coaches. It’s hard to see that changing this season and they can get more long term out of Goodwin. If I was Horny, I’d basically tell him that he’s auditioning for a role with a playoff squad if he plays hard and stays professional.

  • dave:f32

    I have to go against the conforming popular consensus and agree with Nicole101. I remember Brown`s performances as being solid, when they werent jacking with his minutes. He does what you want a shooting guard to do. His defense could use improvement, but who can you not say that about on this Suns team, except Tucker.

    Brown is probably Top 5 players on this team, position-wise. I would take it a step further and say, offensively, hes better than Bledsoe.

  • dave:f32

    Bledsoe is a poor man`s (or cheap man`s, whichever applies) imitation of Chris Paul, with less upside.

  • dave:f32

    Plus, Bledsoe is gonna demand way more than hes worth. Knowing this Syns FO, they will probably overpay just cuz they are so used to it (or paying for players salary when they arent on the team ie. Beasley, Childress, etc. etc.

  • Funnyshit

    Brown doesn’t have the best shot selection but with that said if I was coaching him I would run plays & make Brown a catch & shoot type of player. To lean hard on a player to create his own shot when he doesn’t do such a hot job of it is stupid. You can’t just get on Brown for his defense because a lot of players from last year & this year suck at defense, in fact the Suns have been one of the worse defensive teams for years. I want Phoenix to trade Brown, What he does against the Suns after will be HILARIOUS

  • dave:f32

    You dont promise Brown, or any other Free Agent for that matter, all these things just so they commit to sign and de-commit to other teams, just cuz ur lust-happy to upgrade the talent on the roster. If you do so, dont be surprised when big name FA dont want to be on your team, cuz trust is a difficult thing alter once distrust for the organization has set in.

  • dave:f32

    Marketing 101

  • dave:f32

    I would run the Triangle Offense with this group of characters (players?) And a 3-2 zone trap defense with Gortat and Frye down low, the wing help defense and Bledsoe or Dragic trapping and helping put hand on the ball. Speed kills, and this team is set for speed. Brown is not a CnS kinda player; he is prime for fastbreak and running.

  • HankS

    If I was a contender and my back-up SG got injured, I’d inquire about Brown. He’s a veteran providing instant offense off the bench, not long removed from averaging in double-digits for the season. He’s also got a fairly reasonable expiring contract, so there’s little risk in trading for him. I’d say he’s a trade asset for the Suns.

  • john

    I’m always shocked when the topic of Shannon Brown comes up that some people come to his defense as a player.

    Some people really don’t know basketball.

  • Scott

    @funny -

    The thing is … Brown has been one of those guys who can’t catch and shoot very well. He’s been working on it, but when he first came to the Suns he would always miss unless he took a dribble first. Of course, when you have to take a dribble first, if you were open the defender has closed on you and you’re taking a contested shot … and that’s part of why Brown has performed so poorly.

    If Brown can do catch and shoot these days, then by all means set him up for it.

  • EBJM

    It’s too bad that Brown makes $3.5 millon because I doubt they risk eating his contract. Chrismas will be kept and with the Suns history of giving the most marginal seven-footers a chance, I hope they keep Slava Kravtsov who is guaranteed $1.5 million. I really like the “Eastern Bloc” trio at center and it instantly reminds me of the Suns original “EB” Georgi Glouchkov.

    Marshall is guaranteed $2.5 million so Ish Smith better start packing along with Malcolm Lee. I feel bad for James Nunally but I don’t see being kept because of Brown’s, Marshall, & Kravtsov’s guaranteed money. Kravtsov, Plumlee, Len, & Gortat gives the Suns probably the best quartet of rim protectors in the league and hopefully they will rebounding beasts also, fueling the Suns running game.

    Suns will surprise the masses this season. I love that Mark West hung up his tie to tutor this group of “Bigs” on how maximize their skills and be successful in the NBA.

  • EBJM

    I was watching the Heat & Nets and Mason Plumlee looked pretty good. I was just wondering if the Suns once again have the less talented brother? Don’t know if this was mentioned anywhere but I didn’t know this until tonight; there are THREE 6′-11″ Plumlee brothers. Suns Miles, Nets Mason and Marshall who I believe will be a junior at Duke. Trivia: All three played together at Duke in 2011-12.

  • Scott

    @EBJM -

    At this point, I believe Miles is the lesser brother, though it appears close.

    Miles and Mason have the same general characteristics of size, athleticism, and motor. Both lack the lateral quickness to defend players on the perimeter, and neither can shoot.

    As for Marshall Plumlee, I’ve not heard much about him yet, but if the Suns are trying to collect brothers, they’ll have to try to get him when he enters the draft. ;)

  • Elviro (Italy)

    We exchange: Brown + Gortat + (Frye?) + (Lee) for a draft pick!

    We keep Kravtsov as a man for the bench!

    As a power forward and center so we have: Mk.Morris, (Frye), Plumlee and Len!

    …. and look even better and more towards the future!