Face it – when news broke March 30 that Suns forward Grant
Hill was having surgery on his right knee, you figured the
season was over.
For a second straight season, a slow-starting Suns team
would rally furiously following the All-Star break, only
to fall short of their goal of reaching the NBA Playoffs.
I mean, after all, the Suns were going to be without their
best and most versatile defender for a good chunk of the
remainder of the regular season. With ground to make up
and teams to overtake, Hill’s absence would certainly be
the final nail in the Suns’ playoff coffin.
I definitely felt that way.
But the rest of the players on the roster apparently
didn’t get that memo, and that includes Shannon Brown, who
has done more than an admirable job in filling in for Hill
in the Phoenix starting five.
I’ll admit it – I’ve always found Shannon Brown to be a
maddening NBA player dating back to his days with the Los
Angeles Lakers. He undoubtedly possesses unbelievable
athletic ability. He also lacks a filter that helps him
determine what is a good shot and what is not.
Before signing in Phoenix, he was arguably best known for a
spectacular missed dunk, which, in a way,
summed up his career.
Early in the season, many a Suns fan was shaking their
head about some of the on-court decisions made by Brown.
Those moments haven’t stopped altogether since Brown
stepped into the starting lineup eight games ago, but
they’ve been drastically reduced.
With Brown as a starter, the Suns are 5-3 and find
themselves just one game behind Dallas and Denver for the
final Western Conference playoff spot with just nine games
Individually, Brown is averaging 17.5 points per game as a
starter on 45.3% shooting from the floor. These are not
earth-shattering figures, but for a team that readily
admits they don’t have a go-to scorer, they’re
Not only has Brown thrived as the recipient of increased
minutes, but the Suns’ bench is arguably playing their
best basketball of the season as each member has a more
The news is good on the Grant Hill front. The veteran co-
captain could be back for the stretch run which includes
tough games against Oklahoma City, the Clippers, Denver
and San Antonio.
When Hill is ready to go, does Alvin Gentry just re-insert
him back in the lineup and relegate Brown to the bench?
That remains to be seen, as does whether or not the Suns
re-sign Brown in the offseason. He has not hurt his stock
around the league with his play in the last two weeks, and
could be a commodity in this summer’s free agent market.
One thing we do know is Hill is coming back and it’ll be
good to see #33 on the court when he gets
back. But if the Suns do end up reaching their goal of
making the playoffs, we’d be remiss in not properly
crediting how important Shannon Brown has been during this
second half run.
Man, I never thought I’d say that.