Talking with: Shannon Brown
For the third consecutive game (last night's 92-75 win over the Griz), Shannon Brown was the first guard off the Laker bench, displacing Jordan Farmar in a trend I don't expect to reverse unless the newbie Laker comes up short. Brown played seventeen minutes on Sunday against Farmar's thirteen, but I imagine the gap would have been larger were this contest remotely competitive. Lamar Odom's presence in the second unit adds one more ball handler to the mix, and between LO, Luke Walton and (to a lesser degree) Sasha Vujacic, there are enough dudes capable of running the show that Brown can play "off rock" while concentrating mostly on defense.
That's one reason (among others) that I figured LO would return to his sixth man role with Andrew Bynum available.
Brown and I didn't talk long after the game, but he said a few things I found interesting. For starters, his take on the triangle's famed difficulty. Brown agreed that the system comes as advertised, but it's a hurdle conquerable by a strong willingness (and in the Lakers' case, a need for change).
Brown clearly can't give Tex Winter a run as the triangle go-to instructor, but has studied hard enough that he can operate without getting lost, which is enough to keep him on the court.
I also quickly noted Brown's line about "catching hints" from the coaching staff. Phil Jackson has sometimes been criticized for a cryptic and indirect approach with his players, and whether or not you agree with that criticism, I liked how Brown put an onus on himself to actively listen. I realize his response elaborated on a specific scenario, much less the difference between an entire season's worth of perceived vagueness and being a new guy in no position except to pay attention. But that mindset of accountability permeates through a lot of Brown's answers. From the limited amount of time I've spent around Shannon, he seems to have a very good attitude.
As BK mentioned while we talked about Brown, he appeared quite happy upon arrival, even though the odds favored him getting little run. Yes, PT wouldn't even be available were Farmar not mired in a pretty big slump. But if the coach doesn't see enough evidence to trust the devil unknown, it's a moot point. Brown deserves props for earning that trust pretty quickly.
Andrew Kamenetzky: Your minutes have been steadily increasing over the last 4-5 games. Where's your comfort level at right now, in terms of what you're doing on the floor?
Shannon Brown: Every
game I think I get more and more comfortable. Seeing how I can attack
on defense, seeing how I can attack on offense. Just going out there
and trying to execute the game plan.
AK: The triangle has a reputation for being difficult to learn, particularly for somebody who arrived almost three-quarters of the way through the season. How difficult has it actually been?
SB: At first, when you see it, it's tough, because there's a looooot of stuff you gotta learn. But my teammates and my coaches do a great job of helping me out. They give me little pointers about what to do. If you do this, do that, that and that. You know what I mean? It's one of those things where you gotta study it. You gotta want to learn it.
AK: You've been put in a position where if you want to get on the court, you have to study it even harder. Has that almost been a blessing in disguise?
SB: Definitely. If you want to get on the court, you know what you gotta do. Don't nobody have to tell you what to do. If you want something bad enough, you've gotta work for it. It's a blessing, man. I don't even know what to say.
AK: Given how late you joined the team, were minutes something you expected? Did you even think that was realistic?
SB: I didn't expect nothing. These guys had the best record in the league when I came here. So minutes, I knew I was gonna have to come out and fight and claw and scratch and bite. It's one of the best teams in the league. So when I came here, I didn't expect anything. I just tried to come out here and work hard.
SB (laughs): Hopefully, man. That was a great pass by Luke (Walton). He saw me streaking and threw it behind his back.
AK: You gotta be ready.
SB: You gotta be alert, because he can throw it behind his back, between his legs, over his head. He'll find you.
AK: Have the coaches talked with you at all about how they'd specifically use you?
AK: They throw hints. You just gotta catch them. You just gotta always be prepared. You never know when your number is gonna get called. When your number is called, you gotta go out there and produce.