For two straight years the Suns moved a good bench player into the starting line-up towards the end of the season and two straight years those players production went up; those two guys are Shannon Brown and Jared Dudley.
Remember during the 2010-2011 season when Alvin Gentry began to bench Vince Carter and started Jared Dudley at the shooting guard spot then Dudley went on to play great basketball and put up great numbers. Dudley averaged 16.3 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists a game in his 16 starts for the Suns.
This season the same pretty much took place but with a different player. When Grant Hill went down with injury Brown inserted in to the starting line-up playing the shooting guard spot and Dudley pushed back up to the small forward spot. Brown in his 19 games as the Suns starter averaged 15.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2 assists a game.
Dudley’s production from two seasons ago certainly didn’t carry over to last season so should we expect Brown to do so? Even more importantly can we expect him to do that without Steve Nash. All those wide open looks from behind the 3-point line that Brown got will most likely be limited. This isn’t a knock on Goran Dragic or Kendall Marshall but Nash is probably the best drive and kick point guard to ever play the game.
Shannon Brown will certainly be a valuable piece this year whether he’s a starting or coming off the bench. Brown signed a two year contract with the Suns this off-season with the second year only partially guaranteed. If Shannon Brown wants a permanent spot in the rotation he needs to improve his game. With Wesley Johnson now on board who offers a very similar skill set to Brown in regards of being a spot up shooter and a high flyer Brown will need to prove to Alvin Gentry that he brings more to the table.
Brown is an undersized two guard standing at only about 6’4 which is fine except that Shannon Brown doesn’t have the ball handling skills that most smaller shooting guards HAS and NEED to get to the rim and draw fouls(Examples: Dwayne Wade, Eric Gordon, Monta Ellis). Despite playing an average of 24 minutes a game last season Brown averaged 1.7 free throw attempts a game which is awful. With Brown’s athleticism he should be getting to the line a lot more often. Brown is also a pretty solid foul shooter shooting 91% two years ago in L.A and 81% last season.
If Shannon Brown doesn’t seem to improve he’s in danger of losing his minutes to Wesley Johnson who’s just as good as a shooter as Brown, pretty close if not an equal athlete but Johnson’s main advantage is that he’s 6’7 which is a better size for a wing. Johnson is also a better defender who was ranked 3rd among shooting guards in his rookie season in blocks per minute. Brown’s production last year will earn him minutes to start the year but if he fails to show improvement while Johnson SHOWS IMPROVEMENT, Brown may lose his spot in the rotation.