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