We’re kicking off our offseason coverage here at A Wolf Among Wolves with a comprehensive roster review of the team from this past season, looking at how each player’s 2014-15 went and what we see for them going forward. One player (or group of players) a day for the next couple weeks, starting with the bench and/or those who have moved onto other teams, and rolling up to the starters.
When Lorenzo Brown was first cut by the Timberwolves after the preseason in 2013, common belief would lead most to believe it was the end of the then-NC State prospect’s career in Minnesota.
That changed in late February, when an injury to Ricky Rubio and a trade that sent Mo Williams to Charlotte forced Minnesota to look externally for a short-term answer at point guard. He had already signed a few 10-day contracts before, but the Williams trade was the sealer on keeping Brown around for the remainder of the season. Flip Saunders’ familiarity with Brown (he drafted him, afterall), along with Brown’s success in the NBDL earned him a callup to the team that had drafted him just a year and half before.
Personally, I was bummed when Brown was first let go. Coming out of college, I had grown fond of Brown’s skillset and overall feel for the point guard position. While the term “pure point guard” is a bit dated, he certainly fits a great deal of Brown’s repertoire. While acknowledging his professional shortcomings a year and a half in, I was still excited to see him return this season, albeit with a bit of irrationality.
All things considered, Brown got thrown into the fire in Minnesota, and did a pretty good job. He went from benchwarmer to starter to playing 35+ minutes per game in the span of about a month, all out of necessity and a shorthanded roster. It’s hard to properly critique a guy who was supposed to be used in emergency situations, but Brown made it relatively easy to root for.
While far from a consistent scoring threat, he was often times the most reliable option at point guard when Rubio was injured. When Brown was on the floor, the Wolves’ offensive rating was a solid 104.2. In comparison (while keeping in mind the smaller 549-minute sample size), it was 100.2 when Mo Williams was on the floor, 101.7 with Rubio, and 98.0 with Zach LaVine.
This is not to say that Brown is on the playing level of the three listed above, but it should mean, at the very least, that Brown deserves credit for what he did with what he had.
After a decent year in Minnesota, it’s still unclear what Brown’s future holds in the NBA, let alone Minnesota. He still has another summer (league?), training camp, and preseason where he’ll have to prove his worth, and will need to keep up solid play into the regular season. He isn’t a sure thing in the NBA, but one thing is clear: he helped his case in Minnesota.