LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Like most picks in the second round, where the money is not guaranteed, unless so designated by the team itself, Alec Brown’s future beyond this week is unknown.
Yes, the Phoenix Suns believe in his ability — it’s rare to find a big man who can shoot the three with consistent success –but will that skill set fit in the team’s plans this season or after some seasoning elsewhere, overseas perhaps?
“Honestly, I don’t know. We’ll see,” said the 7-foot-1 Brown, who was the 50th overall selection in last month’s NBA Draft. “I’m just going to keep going out there and playing as hard as I can and let the higher-ups make the decision from there. Yes, given the choice, I’d obviously love to stay in Phoenix and help out the team whatever way I could.”
With Channing Frye choosing to sign with Orlando, the Suns are in need of a big that can help stretch the floor, pulling the defense out of the paint opening up lanes for guards Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and now Isaiah Thomas in addition to first-round draft pick Tyler Ennis.
Markieff Morris has that ability. So too does Anthony Tolliver, who just recently agreed to a reported two-year, $6 million contract. But might there still be room for Brown?
As a senior last year at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Brown shot 42 percent from beyond the arc, helping him average a career-high 15.3 points. He also grabbed 5.7 rebounds and blocked a career-best 3.1 shots per game to earn Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year.
“When we’re out there (and) Miles (Plumlee) rolls to the rim, it’s almost, I don’t want to say like Channing, but there are some similarities there,” Suns’ Summer League head coach Mike Longabardi said. “Because if you hug Alec then Miles is going to get a layup. If you come in and pull-in on the roll, then Alec is going to get an open shot. That’s why I told him ‘be ready to shoot. You get your shots and you’re going to make them. That’s what you do.'”
Thus far, however, Brown has yet to find his shooting stroke. He missed his first 11 attempts, including five threes, before finally knocking down a jumper and a three in the fourth quarter against Milwaukee on Sunday. Since then Brown has made only one other field goal.
“I know I have the shot,” he said of his 3-of-16 output through four games. “Even if it’s not falling down here, I know I can shoot it, they know I can shoot it. Part of it is a just confidence thing right now. I’ve just got to get my confidence back for in the games and I’ll be fine.”
Longabardi chalked up some of Brown’s struggles to jitters, especially in the first game.
Not only did Brown shoot well in college, but also at the NBA Combine, where he out-performed all other power forwards and centers with an eye-opening 18-of-25 from three-point range and 21-of-25 on 15-footers.
“I could always shoot mid-range very well. Starting junior year my coach let me step out a little bit and worked on it more in the offseason and eventually got it to 40-something percent,” he said. “I just thought I’d add something to my game, honestly. Just worked at and worked at until I had it. Just thought it would make my game more unique, for my height especially.”
Getting his feet wet on the pro level this week should help Brown no matter where he may land this season.
“It’s been a new experience for sure, a lot of fun though,” he said. “Each game out there just getting a little more comfortable playing. It’s definitely a different level of play for sure and I think I’ve slowly adjusted to it. I think I can fill a role on this team, so we’ll see how it goes.”