Tony Brown Trekking with Flawed Brooklyn Nets Roster

Mar 1, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Brooklyn Nets head coach Tony Brown looks up during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. The Los Angeles Lakers won 107-101. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 1, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Brooklyn Nets head coach Tony Brown looks up during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. The Los Angeles Lakers won 107-101. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

Tony Brown is accumulating victories as a head coach with a flawed and underwhelming Brooklyn Nets roster.

After 18 seasons as an assistant coach in the NBA, Brooklyn Nets interim coach Tony Brown is performing admirably in his debut as the lead man on the sidelines. Inheriting an inconsistent mess of talent that played a part in Lionel Hollins‘ firing, Brown has had the arduous task of extracting as much production out of his underwhelming unit.

At 10-27, Brooklyn was fading, exponentially, in the Eastern Conference standings and didn’t have the firepower to reload and make a mid-season surge. Both Jarrett Jack and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, two key cogs in the malfunctioning machine, went down for an extended period of time during the season.

It’s been a pitiful campaign for Brooklyn, compounded by injuries and no future prospects–the Nets are without a first-round pick in the 2016 NBA draft.

However, Brown has salvaged a barren situation and has provided a sliver of optimism for general manager Sean Marks. Since taking over as head coach, Brooklyn has gone 8-18 and has pulled off a couple of late-game shockers.

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Interim head coaches are usually relieved at the end of the season in favor of more well-known coaching commodities on the market, but Brown is making a serious case to stay an additional season.

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Brooklyn averaged their highest scoring total in a month in February and have totaled 100 points or more in two out of three games in March. They didn’t surpass the 100-point mark in the previous three months and the buyout of Joe Johnson inevitably seemed like a catalyst for the Nets’ offense to plunge back into ineptitude.

However, the conglomerate of NBA castoffs outside of center Brook Lopez and forward Thaddeus Young have provided Brown with additional and surprising production. Arguably, it starts with point guard Donald Sloan, a nomad in the NBA who has found a home in Brooklyn.

Sloan was a fringe bench option at his previous four stops in the NBA, but was thrust into Brooklyn’s starting lineup after Jack went down with an ACL injury in January. Instead of becoming the focal point of the Nets’ offensive focus, Brown has converted Sloan into an efficient starter who doesn’t need to play beyond his ability.

Averaging 10.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in the month of February, the five Brooklyn wins were in part of Sloan’s ability to handle the starting point guard position in the NBA. It’s not like Sloan in pushing the pace drastically for the Nets either.

Brown still has Brooklyn in the bottom half of the league in pace and doesn’t have the talent to handle a back-and-forth game that regularly heads into 100-point territory for both teams.

The Nets’ top talent, Lopez, is optimally effective in the half court, rather than on the break as a lane filler. With methodical movement on offense, Lopez is still Brooklyn’s primary option when it needs a basket. He has four 30-point games with Brown manning the sidelines, compared to just one playing for Hollins.

Lopez averaged 22.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game and shot 55.8 percent from the field in February, as Brooklyn went 5-8 in the month. Evidently, Brooklyn’s success is synonymous with Lopez’s play and he’s a seasoned veteran offensively for the Nets.

Brooklyn can provide assistance to their franchise big man the offseason. They will start fresh, with ample amounts of salary from Johnson playing for Miami and no excess of salary inherited through the draft. Even with the possible new and exciting additions for an organization lacking an appealing future, it’s murky territory for the Nets head coach.

All of Brown’s wins have come against teams below .500. However, take into account the challenges Brown faces by having little talent to work with and those victories become even more convincing of his future ability.

If Marks can provide Brown with additional support in the form of actual NBA talent, then gauging Brown’s status as the Nets’ head coach of the future will be more appropriate. However, he needs to have his interim tag lifted and an abundant of free agents have to arrive for Brown to warrant a legitimate and fair gig as an NBA head coach.

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With a negligible roster, Brown has developed the Nets into more than pushovers. It’s a product of a head coach whose proved his worth for arguably one of the league’s most chaotic organizations.