After a positive season overall, Sterling Brown has really turned it on of late, as he has become a key playoff contributor for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Going into the 2017 NBA Draft, Sterling Brown was listed by many as a possible steal. He was not invited to the combine prior to the draft and was eventually taken in the second round. His three-point shooting (45 percent) in college, and stingy defense were enough for him to be labeled as a potential future role player.
Brown had continued to look like that future role player last year with the Milwaukee Bucks, as he was slowly progressing showing the tools that got him drafted. When given a chance he thrived, but many would argue he was not given enough of a chance under Jason Kidd.
This year it has been a different story. Brown’s minutes have only jumped from 14 to 17 per game but he has been so much more effective of late.
Brown has been more assertive on offense this year, driving to the basket, creating his own shot, and catching and shooting. His mentality of being scared of no-one, backing down from no-one, has brought an intensity to the Milwaukee Bucks that some would argue they had been lacking at times.
With Malcolm Brogdon going down with an injury, the Bucks have been forced to shuffle their starting lineup. Many thought Tony Snell would step into that starting spot but he has also been bitten by the injury bug. Ultimately, Brown has been the one to make the jump from the bench unit to the starting group.
Coming into the season, many fans thought Brown would play a role on this team. How large that role was, not many knew. To begin the year the former second round pick brought what he was known for last year, his fiery attitude, intense defense, and also a deadly three-point shooting ability from the corners.
On the year, Brown has shot a deadly 52.7 percent from the corners. His deadeye ability from those spots on the floor surely has in his increased minutes this year. When he shares the floor with Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks superstar’s ability to throw rocket passes out to the corners as he drives makes Brown all the more valuable.
Not only has Brown been lights out from three but he has also continued to bring lots of energy on the defensive end. He’s not scared to get in anyone’s face, and that has given a lift to the overall intensity of the Bucks on the defensive side of the floor.
Another aspect of Brown’s game that has improved is his ability to take the ball strong to the rim off the dribble. It seemed last year that every once in a while he would take the ball straight to the hoop and dunk as hard as he could. That has become a much more common occurrence this year, especially of late.
In addition to his previously mentioned improved skills Brown has also been flashing a new skill in his minutes lately. In Game 1 of the series against the Detroit Pistons, he dished out seven assists. Brown does not immediately strike you as a distributor, normally looking for this own shot, but clearly, under the right circumstances he’s a more than capable passer.
In March and April, Brown has seen his assists averages jump above 2.0 per game for the first time in his career, so maybe his game of 7 assists was not as out of nowhere as it first appeared. As a starter this year he is averaging 2.6 assists per game in seven games, while it’s also worth remembering that Brown was asked to initiate by Budenholzer and his assistants at Summer League last summer.
Brown’s ability to jump seamlessly from role player to starter on one of the best teams in the NBA speaks volumes about the overall progress he has made. Brown’s steady improvements in all aspects of his game have been very promising.
If the Bucks want to make a deep run into the playoffs without Malcolm Brogdon, Sterling Brogdon will need to continue to be his new and improved self. If he also continues to be the new and improved version of himself when Brogdon comes back, look out NBA.