Milwaukee Bucks: 5 lessons from 2019 NBA Summer League

Las Vegas, NV - JULY 5: (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Las Vegas, NV - JULY 5: (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images) /
2 of 6
Las Vegas, NV – JULY 5: (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Las Vegas, NV – JULY 5: (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Managing expectations with Sterling

An incredibly important summer for Sterling Brown certainly didn’t get underway in the fashion he’d have hoped for.

Brown is heading into a contract year, and will do so knowing he’ll have a meaningful opportunity to take on a much bigger role for the Bucks.

Malcolm Brogdon’s departure led many to appoint Brown as his natural successor in the short and long-term, and perhaps belief in that possibility played into Milwaukee’s decision not to re-sign the now Indiana Pacer.

It’s not difficult to understand the case for that argument, as Brown has demonstrated the ability to shoot and defend at an NBA standard, and the Bucks didn’t miss a beat when he stepped up in place of the injured Brogdon during the regular season.

That doesn’t tell the full story of where Brown’s game is currently at, though, as the playoffs proved. While Brogdon returned from injury to become one of Milwaukee’s very best performers as the postseason progressed, Brown struggled mightily and became close to unplayable as the Bucks’ run went on.

That wasn’t necessarily surprising for a player in just his second season but, in Vegas, experience should have played to Brown’s advantage. In his third Summer League and with meaningful NBA experience beyond him, Brown could largely have been expected to look head and shoulders above the rest.

The fact is he didn’t, though. In three games, Brown averaged just 10.7 points in just under 30 minutes per game, which can be largely attributed to his dreadful 23.9 percent shooting from the field. Twelve months ago, Brown looked impressive handling the ball and distributing, but this year he averaged 3.3 turnovers per game to only 2.3 assists per game.

Perhaps most concerning, Brown struggled notably in driving to the basket, an area of his game where he had demonstrated meaningful improvement last year.

Not everything from Brown’s Summer League is translatable to the kind of role he’s asked to play as a much more complementary piece in the NBA, but there’s a lot of it that is, meaning this can’t simply be dismissed out of hand.

Brown is filled with promise, but Summer League should act as a timely reminder of how much work he has left to do before he reaches the kind of level that Milwaukee may well need him to perform at. In short, lofty expectations should probably be tempered. An important few months of work now lie ahead for Brown.