The Denver Nuggets made numerous moves in the off-season to improve on the defensive end. Bruce Brown is expected to be a key element in the Nuggets’ goal to form a formidable defensive wall between the star duo of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic.
However, I believe Brown will be especially a huge asset to the Nuggets’ defensive plan in the upcoming season. Denver has lacked depth and versatility in the wing position, Bruce Brown can be a “switch-all defender” for Denver this season.
His strong body frame can help him be a great defensive player inside and outside the paint. He can be an ‘entry point’ defender against star guards, relieving some of the pressure from Aaron Gordon, who had that role during the 2021-22 season.
We know Gordon will bring a lot to the Denver Nuggets’ rotation after one full season, but Brown had a weird 2021-22 campaign. Due to Brooklyn’s major absences and off-court drama, Steve Nash was unable to create a basic rotation structure. Brown wasn’t at his best in this environment.
Bruce Brown is the Nuggets’ defensive glue guy
Bruce Brown was the defensive glue guy in the Nets rotation. According to Cleaning The Glass, the Miami product was part of the Nets’ most-used lineup during the 2021-22 campaign.
Brown is expected to be a regular in the Nuggets’ closing lineups and for good reason. His length will be important for the big stage, with Nikola Jokic having known deficiencies in the defensive side and Jamal Murray coming off a long-term injury.
As was relayed by head coach Michael Malone via Mike Singer of The Denver Post, the Nuggets’ coach urged people to run back to the highlights of last season’s playoff series between Brooklyn and Boston.
"“I would urge everybody to go back and watch the playoffs from this year, go back and watch the playoffs last year, Bruce Brown is a tough kid. I love his toughness.”"
Brown will bring his toughness to Denver, a much-needed element when it comes to playoff basketball. Last season, the Denver Nuggets were outplayed in their first-round series versus Golden State being unable to stop the Warriors’ perimeter-heavy lineups.
The Nuggets were the worst team in defensive advanced statistics allowing 121.9 points per 100 possessions in five playoff games, per NBA.com. Malone hopes that Brown and the rest of the wing rotation players can prevent that from happening this year.
In any case, it will be interesting to see how Malone will utilize Brown. Will he elect to bring him off the bench to play as part of the second unit in the early stages of the game, or he will use him as a sure-fire starter from the start of the season?
Brown’s utilization on offense
The Denver Nuggets played their second preseason game on Friday, and it remains unclear what lineups Michael Malone will use at the start of the regular season. However, Brown is expected to be among Denver’s prized rotational pieces as an archetypal 3-and-D wing.
He demonstrated improvement last season in his three-point shooting percentage, making 40% on 1.3 attempts per game. With 14.6 USG%, Brown was not a big part of the Nets’ offense. However, he was still effective at cutting and rolling to the basket.
Brown often served as a screener for the Nets’ capable shot creators (Durant, Irving, Mills) when he was playing in Brooklyn. So, he will likely do the same for Jamal Murray, who is an elite shot-maker from the perimeter.
Moreover, he will be great as a cutter for Nikola Jokic, who is capable to make any pass from any angle. Brown made great strides as a player who could create on the short roll, while his off-ball movement will be used better in Denver.
Brown’s greatest asset is his versatility, and during his four seasons in the NBA, it has become clear that he can be used in many different ways. No matter what role Michael Malone decides to utilize him in, Brown will find a way to succeed.