Denver Nuggets: How well does Bruce Brown fit?

Brooklyn Nets forward Bruce Brown (1) gets called for a foul on Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) during the third quarter at Barclays Center on 26 Jan. 2022. (Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets forward Bruce Brown (1) gets called for a foul on Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) during the third quarter at Barclays Center on 26 Jan. 2022. (Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Denver Nuggets have signed Bruce Brown to a two-year, $13 million deal, opting to join the Nuggets for less annual value to prioritize his basketball fit.

The deal, first reported by Malika Andrews, ESPN, bolsters Denver’s perimeter defense while adding some positional versatility that Michael Malone hasn’t had in recent seasons. The 6’4″ Brown will obviously slide in at one of the guard/wing positions but he’ll also have the opportunity to play as a big man with and without Nikola Jokic.

In 72 games with the Brooklyn Nets, Bruce Brown averaged nine points per game alongside 1.1 steals and 4.8 rebounds in just over 24 minutes a night. He first became a consistent role player for the Nets as the center in lineups with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, nicknamed Biggie Smalls.

While Brown won’t be playing the Biggie Smalls center spot much for Denver, his defensive intensity will be welcomed by the Nuggets as they look to fill out the trio of Jokic, Michael Porter Jr., and Jamal Murray with defensive studs.

It’s exciting that he cited the basketball fit with the Denver Nuggets because everything he does is crucial for this team and it’s exciting to see a player take a pay cut to join the title contenders. On that note, it’s also a kudos to Calvin Booth who, in his first offseason as the lead decision-maker, was able to talk a free agent into coming here on a discount.

What exactly will Bruce Brown do with the Denver Nuggets?

At the start of the season, Brown will be coming off the bench, joining Bones Hyland in the backcourt, and subbing in for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as the main perimeter defender.

Malone could also really lean into defense with some of his lineups, running with KCP, Brown, and Aaron Gordon alongside Jokic and a playmaker. One of the luxuries a team has with Jokic is that they’ll have an elite offense no matter who’s running out there with him so there’s little to worry about creation from the other positions.

In bench units, this further adds to Hyland’s role as Brown is more of a play finisher than a play creator. As mentioned a few days ago, I think Bones has what it takes to anchor the bench offense so there are no issues there.

Another luxury with this move is that both Bones and Brown should integrate seamlessly with the starting lineup which will help when Malone eventually shortens his lineup in the playoffs to around eight players. It’s looking like we already have the eight players with either Jeff Green or Zeke Nnaji in the final spot.

Will we see Biggie Smalls Bruce Brown with the Denver Nuggets?

Obviously, all of Denver’s best lineups have Nikola Jokic at the five so while we won’t see Bruce Brown replacing Jokic when it matters, the Denver Nuggets could slide him in at the four when Aaron Gordon sits.

Similar to Gary Payton II‘s role with the Golden State Warriors this past season, Brown could defend the best guard scorer on the other team while playing the four on offense, diving to the rim for lobs or sneaky cuts.

Brown is a passable shooter, just like GPII and it worked throughout the playoffs and the Finals. Payton II just signed a three-year, $28 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers so Brown’s deal could look like a bargain in a similar role.

If Brown as one of the big men on offense doesn’t work, there’s no issue as MPJ and AG can spend most of the game there while Bruce sticks to a guard position. This kind of versatility is refreshing in Denver.

The fit is excellent and the flexibility is even better. What an excellent signing by Calvin Booth.

Next. Why a Kevin Durant trade makes no sense for Denver. dark