Orlando Magic 104, San Antonio Spurs 100: Derrick Brown adds new wrinkle to chase for 15th roster spot

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We’ve had an idea of what each of the players battling for the only available roster spot bring to the table for the better part of a month. With the competition now becoming a two-man one, I figured we had a handle on what Eddy Curry and Derrick Brown bring to the table. In the Spurs’ 104-100 preseason loss to the Orlando Magic on Sunday evening, Brown threw a wrench into the machine.

Derrick Brown was an early favorite of mine in whatever real or imagined competition for the last roster spot is playing out during the preseason. The Spurs aren’t required to keep a 15th player on the roster, and being the fiscally conservative small market team they are, I haven’t expected them to. But Brown has a versatility that no other player on the Spurs roster has. He’s a mobile big defensively, something the Spurs lack. Stephen Jackson and Kawhi Leonard have the ability to play both the 3 and 4 like Brown, but they are small forwards who can play some power forward. Brown, on the other hand, is a 4 who can play 3. It’s not a can’t-miss attribute, but it’s nice to add even more flexibility to an already deep team.

For all of the things I liked about Brown, though, he had one glaring weakness. He couldn’t shoot. A sub-32% 3-point shooter for his career, I figured his inability to spread the floor offensively would be the proverbial nail in Brown’s Spurs coffin.

Well, I may have to re-think that.

In a performance that highlighted all the things that Brown does well, the former Charlotte Bobcat scored nine points on 4-4 shooting including knocking down two — count em — two open jumpers. One of those shots was a 3-pointer from the corner, some place the Spurs like for their wings to score from. This was in addition to his active defense and finishing around the basket.

I don’t know if it was enough to get Brown over the top and earn a stay past October 29, when the Spurs have to trim the roster down to 15 players, but it was a positive development. Gun to my head, I think the Spurs slightly favor Eddy Curry mostly because Curry at his best would be better than anything Brown could really produce. And the Spurs don’t have anyone who can score in the post outside of Tim Duncan. Curry didn’t play on Sunday against the Magic.

Having said all of this, expect the Spurs to waive everybody and go into season with 14 players. Why? Because we’re talking about this all too much and the Spurs rarely do the what everyone thinks they’ll do.

  • Patty Mills made his first appearance of the preseason against Orlando. Mills scored six points and brought a whole lot of speed and activity to the second unit. I liked the dynamic with Mills at point and Manu Ginobili as the two guard. Mills put up nine shots in his 17 minutes on the floor. Mid-season form, baby.
  • Kawhi Leonard continues to shoot poorly. He only played seven minutes against the Magic, but he shot 1-6. It’s still preseason, but I’d like to see him break out of whatever shooting slump he’s in and score the ball well.
  • Only five minutes for Matt Bonner against Orlando. Bonner picked up DNPs against Miami on Saturday and versus Atlanta and Denver. In total, Bonner has logged 27 minutes this preseason. I don’t know if there’s any particular reason for that, but it’s something to keep in mind. First commenter to joke that Pop is saving him for playoffs wins a prize.
  • #FreeNando
  • Daniel

    pop wants to save him for the playoffs?

  • Daniel

    wouldn’t it be some rookie’s luck to have never seen bonner’s shot style and have to guard him. The look on his face would be priceless.

  • Bob

    Pop’s just resting the plus-minus king till the games count. It’s amazing Bonner’s annual playoff meltdowns haven’t affected his regular season success. Maybe this is the year it finally does.

  • Blofeld

    Can the Spurs waive Bonner? Can anyone seriously say they’d rather keep Bonner over Curry and Brown?!!

  • http://profiles.google.com/montelongoalejandro Alejandro Montelongo

    I honestly think that Pop already knows what Bonner can (can’t?) do and doesn’t have anything new to see, in the other hand he wants to see what the guys fighting for the 15th spot can show (eating up Matt’s minutes). I hope Bonner sticks around and finally makes himself show in the playoffs, the guy is too much fun to let go!

  • Daniel

    No…he’s not fun. He’s a terrible defender who can only inconsistently shoot the basketball.

  • ThatBigGuy

    Bonner added a left handed floater-hook shot to his slash game, and Pop is keeping that off the game films.

    I keep saying that a second unit featuring Mills/Manu/Neal is going to be incredibly fun to watch and impossible to guard.

  • http://profiles.google.com/lordxar Ray Briggs II

    Pop doesn’t need to play Matt, what else is he going to show at this point.
    As much as I like him on a personal level, I would rather trade him for a pick to free a roster slot for one of these preseason guys. I am taking potential over what I know I will get from Bonner, playoff disappointment.

  • 1KillerSpur

    Lol,we all know that Pop is saving winter shoes for the playoffs!!

  • STIJL

    “Having said all of this, expect the Spurs to waive everybody and go into
    season with 14 players. Why? Because we’re talking about this all too
    much and the Spurs rarely do the what everyone thinks they’ll do.”

    Yeah…but arm chair predicting is such a rewarding job even if it’s the most non-rewarding thing we do. : ]

  • Leben

    Like you said it’s only the preseason, but I expected Kawhi to be more summer-league-like. I thought we’d get to see some of the things he did in SL reinforced in the preseason: handling the ball in PnR and initiation of the offense. The only thing I’ve seen from SL is rebound and go–ball handling full court. Maybe Pop is just holding him back to unleash in reg. season.

  • GoSpursGo

    Yes, I would very much rather have Bonner over Brown (an energetic but inexperienced player with limited offensive game) and Curry (no heart, never made himself into a team player). Bonner has limited upside, but is a good team player and a good shooter.

  • NYC

    I don’t really want to defend Bonner, but what you say simply isn’t true. There have been several posts on this site analyzing the stats and Bonner is one of the BEST one-on-one defenders on this team. I don’t expect you to believe me so go find those posts in the archives. Also, he’s not inconsistent. Hitting 40% (or better) of your threes over the regular season makes you one of the best three-point shooters in the league. In the playoffs, he consistently misses all his shots. He is a paragon of consistency and predictability.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fleebo.carter Flee-bo Carter

    I think my team the spurs should keep both brown and curry and release joseph we are deep at the piont we need bigs to handle the lakers and okc

  • mark

    Brown was actually a good three point shooter in college. His last year at Xavier, he shot 43.3% on 2.8 attempts per game. I think this spot has been his all along to lose. Pop respects Larry Brown and Derrick was one of the few rookies to actually play for LB.

  • mark

    Spurs won’t release guaranteed salary. Put that out of your mind right now.

    The only way there is more than one roster spot left is if they do a many for one trade, or someone can absorb one of our contracts outright in a trade with cap room or a trade exception.

  • Tim in Surrey

    FYi, Spurs have waived both Curry AND Brown, but not Powell (yet).

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  • ThatOneGuy

    What goes around comes around? If Bonner has had all of these awful post season performances for god knows how many years, then maybe one year he’ll just implode and shoot 3’s in the clutch like he’s Ray Allen. Yeah? Yeah? Probably not -_-