Bruce Brown could steady Raptors’ backcourt in free agency

TAMPA, FLORIDA - APRIL 21: Freddie Gillespie #55 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - APRIL 21: Freddie Gillespie #55 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

If the Toronto Raptors are going to improve any single position in the 2022 NBA offseason, going after a backup guard who can alleviate some of the pressure that Fred VanVleet has shouldered would be a very prudent option. Stealing Bruce Brown from the Brooklyn Nets would be ideal.

Brown has been in the NBA since 2018  after getting drafted No. 42 overall by the Detroit Pistons. A trade to Brooklyn helped Brown really break out. The Miami alum, who stands 6-4 and is only 25 years old, could be the next free agent Masai Ujiri and the Raptors pursue.

Coming off a season in which he averaged 9.0 points, 2.1 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game, Brown is looking to cash in.

Toronto will always be on the lookout for ascending young players that can defend well. After going from an offensive liability in Detroit to a valuable Nets reserve, Brown’s game has progressed enough to where Toronto should feel comfortable using their MLE on him.

Brown would be an odd if not talented option coming off the Raptors’ bench. While he is a bit of a puzzling fit on most teams considering his “jack of all trades” approach to the game, a squad like the Raptors would have absolutely no trouble carving out a long-term role for him.

Bruce Brown may be a cost-effective but talented way for the Raptors to steady their backcourt.

Brown was a hot 40.4% on the three-ball and shot 50.6% from the floor this season. While his 3-point attempts were limited, and his game revolves around finishing inside, Raptors management and Nick Nurse would be unwise not to at least consider what Brown could bring to the team as he has worked hard at improving.

During his sophomore season, 2019-20, his former head coach Dwane Casey stated:

".“His next step, maybe not this year but two years from now, is to become an elite three-point shooter,”"

Perhaps he’s on his way to hitting that goal if Nurse has him chuck it with more volume.

Aside from his shooting, he could provide the Raptors with a solid guard option coming off the bench. The Raptors showed a weakness with their backcourt. VanVleet logged heavy minutes leading to knee problems and a hip pointer during the playoffs.

VanVleet got little relief from sophomore guard Malachi Flynn or rookies David Johnson and Dalano Banton in 2022. Goran Dragic was acquired to help the backcourt, but was sent home after just five appearances in a Raptors’ uniform. Brown, if acquired, could take on some ball-handling duties while still playing his funky defense-first style

Listed as a shooting guard/small forward, Brown does have the ability to be a versatile defender on the perimeter. Brown saw minutes everywhere from point guard to power forward, and Nurse will have fun using a chess piece like him.

The Raptors have a lot of money and development effort invested in VanVleet succeeding as their point guard. Risking his health by overplaying him as he was in 2022 is dangerous to the long-term goals of the franchise.

With talk of a three-year contract extension worth $89 million for VanVleet, a reliable back is required. Brown offers a solid backup to take some of the pressure off the Raptors’ diminutive starting point guard and a steady shooting stroke to solidify a sputtery offense.

With Scottie Barnes said to have made strides in his shooting already and more improvement from Precious Achiuwa to come, Brown could make the Raptors an elite offensive team to match their defensive mastery.

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