Lorenzo Brown’s season hasn’t been easy, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he leaves Maccabi Tel Aviv in the summer. Source: Srdjan Stevanovic/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
Lorenzo Brown’s season hasn’t been easy, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he leaves Maccabi Tel Aviv in the summer. Source: Srdjan Stevanovic/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

How to get the most out of Lorenzo Brown?

Basketball OlyBet 11.04.2024

Lorenzo Brown ingrained himself into the consciousness of all European basketball fans during the 2022 EuroBasket, where he played a crucial role in Spain’s triumph. However, this season, he has not displayed the expected level of performance in the EuroLeague.

Spain enlisted the American because their backcourt was heavily depleted due to injuries. Brown averaged 15.2 points and 7.6 assists per game in the EuroBasket, and although his teammate Willy Hernangomez was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, Brown was equally indispensable, if not more so, compared to the center.

Looking at this season’s EuroLeague statistics, Brown, who plies his trade with Maccabi Tel Aviv, is having his most productive season in terms of assists. However, his scoring output is lower than usual, and his shooting efficiency has reached its nadir. Truth be told, throughout the season, it has seemed like Brown hasn’t been quite himself.

To some extent, Brown’s struggles can be attributed to health issues. For instance, he announced last summer that he would miss the FIBA World Cup due to an injury sustained during the victorious EuroBasket, and he couldn’t fully recover from it before the 2022/23 EuroLeague season began. According to medical experts, Brown needed rest and rehabilitation to be one hundred percent fit for the current season.

However, Brown hasn’t participated in all matches this season. Both in January and February, he took breaks from playing due to back pain, although the pain wasn’t severe enough to keep him off the court for long.

Baldwin is Batman, Nebo is Robin

Before the season, it was thought that Brown and fellow guard Wade Baldwin would play the most crucial roles for Maccabi, but looking at the season as a whole, center Josh Nebo has emerged alongside Baldwin.

Moreover, Baldwin is clearly having his best EuroLeague season and is poised to be a player we might see in the NBA, the world’s strongest league, next season. Given his excellence, he requires and deserves a lot of the ball, inevitably reducing Brown’s opportunities compared to before.

Even when Brown gets the chance to lead the offense, it seems that… Statistics don’t cover this, but watching the games, he appears to be one of the most careless players in terms of easily preventable turnovers. Additionally, Brown’s shots and drives to the basket are often overly difficult, which explains why he’s never shot as poorly in the EuroLeague as he has this season.

In the EuroLeague assists leaderboard, Brown ranks third with 6.2 assists per game, trailing only Baskonia’s Codi Miller-McIntyre (7.2) and Real Madrid’s playmaker Facundo Campazzo (6.5). Brown’s previous EuroLeague career-high was 6.1 assists per game, achieved during the 2021/22 season with UNICS Kazan.

However, it’s often been noticed in Maccabi’s games how the offense becomes much more individualistic with Brown, and the ball frequently stops moving. When the second unit, led by Tamir Blatt, takes the floor, the offense becomes faster and smoother.

Why not start Brown from the bench?

Maccabi head coach Oded Kattash has placed a lot of trust in Brown, as he has averaged 29.1 minutes per game in the EuroLeague, making him the leader in average playing time for the Israeli powerhouse. Baldwin and starting small forward Bonzie Colson follow closely behind with just over 28 minutes.

Kattash is one of those coaches who has two distinct lineups. Maccabi’s most common starting five consists of Brown, Baldwin, Colson, Jake Cohen, and Nebo, followed by substitutions from Blatt, John DiBartolomeo, center Jasiel Rivero, and depending on availability, two players from Roman Sorkin, Antonius Cleveland, and James Webb III.

Honestly, it would be intriguing to see at least once a game where one of Maccabi’s highest-paid players, Brown, starts from the bench, allowing Blatt to play alongside the main men. The son of former Maccabi head coach David Blatt is having an impressive season, averaging 6.9 points and 4.5 assists in just 18 minutes per game. Moreover, his shooting percentages are remarkable, with a field goal percentage of 56.2% and a three-point percentage of 39.7%, among the best on the team. Only Rivero and Rafi Menco (both at 40%) have been more accurate from beyond the arc for Maccabi, but Rivero has attempted only five threes all season, and Menco doesn’t play a lot.

Promoting Blatt would mean that Brown becomes the undisputed leader of the second unit, giving him more freedom and opportunities. Additionally, coming off the bench might mean facing lesser competition, which could lead to better performances and increased confidence.

It should be noted that the idea is not to completely swap Brown and Blatt in terms of minutes played. No, coming off the bench might make it more likely for Brown to ease into the game and perform better in crucial moments than he does currently.

Look at Teodosić and Sloukas

Of course, at this late stage of the season, it’s clear that we probably won’t see such an experiment. After all, Maccabi has secured the seventh spot in the standings, giving them the highest seed in the play-in tournament. Therefore, it would be shocking if Kattash decided to start Blatt and bench Brown before such important games. But it wouldn’t hurt to try, even in the final game of the regular season against Milano.

Another question is whether Brown would even agree to such a role. Despite his disappointing season, he is still a star, and who knows, perhaps his contract stipulates that he must start games.

However, looking at other top EuroLeague point guards, starting from the bench is not unprecedented. Behind Brown in the assists leaderboard are Crvena Zvezda Belgrade’s Miloš Teodosić (5.9) and Panathinaikos Athens’ Kostas Sloukas (5.7). Teodosić has started in only four out of 26 games, and Sloukas in 12 out of 26. And are they worse players when coming off the bench? Certainly not!

It will be interesting to see how Maccabi progresses with its backcourt in the upcoming summer, especially considering that Baldwin is secured for the next season. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if he attracts interest from the NBA. If he stays in Europe, continuing in Israel is very likely.

As for Brown, who turns 34 in August, it wouldn’t be surprising if he parts ways with Maccabi, especially if Baldwin stays. Because the leadership reins of the team clearly belong to Baldwin, and elsewhere, Brown might get a more significant role.


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