Laker Report Cards: Shannon Brown
The sweltering humidity, lack of air conditioning and the accelerated speed of his workouts set a blistering tone for what Lakers guard Shannon Brown considered to be well worth it.
He had seen improvement for the last two seasons with the Lakers in both playing time and performances, but he didn't want his LetShannonDunk.com website to solely define who he was as a player. So there Brown remained at his high school and elementary school in his hometown of Maywood, Ill., during the summer eager to working on his ball handling and shooting under sweltering conditions so he could become a complete player. But that identity only took shape during the first month of the season before Brown was slipping into a shooting slump that never ended.
After averaging 10.83 points on 48.6% shooting and creating a buzz as the league's most improved player through 18 games, Brown finished the remaining 64 games posting 8.07 points a game on a 40.61% shooting clip. Browns' playoffs numbers might have improved from the first-round series against New Orleans to the semifinals series against Dallas in both points per game (5.8, 9.3) and shooting percentage (39.4%, 53.6%), but Hoopdata.com statistics against the Mavericks mostly point to his late acceptance in finding most of his shots at the rim.
"Blame it on whatever," said Brown, who declined to say whether he'll opt out of his $2.37 million contract. "I'll just say I didn't shoot the ball well. I missed shots. That's pretty much that. I'm not going to blame it on anything else. I missed shots."
It would've served Brown better had he followed that approach earlier, but his desire to be more of a complete player than simply a dunker quickly morphed into becoming a trigger-happy shooter that continuously aggravated the Lakers' coaching staff. No doubt, the Lakers benefitted from his energy, uber athleticism and highlight-reel dunks, but that's happened for the last two seasons since he joined the Lakers in February of 2009. Instead of being more purposeful with his shot selection, Brown simply tried shooting his way out of his slump the entire season without any success. While he was in that shooting slump, Brown also refused to devote his energy in any other facets of the game, particularly defense. His weakness was in having raw talent but being stubborn about adapting his game to his strong suit, a bad sign considering the former criticism at least showed he was more eager to learn.
Brown never went into specifics, but he had also mentioned off-the-court issues affected his play. It'd be too speculative if any of that is attached to his recent marriage to R&B singer Monica, but for a player trying to make that next step in a natural progression, Brown took a few steps back this season. That's why he looked Lakers Coach Phil Jackson right in the eye during his exit interview and personally apologized for both his own shortcomings and for the team falling in a sweep to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals.
"I told him, 'That was a terrible to hand him his last game and season to go out that way,' " Brown recalled telling Jackson. "I felt really bad about that. I can't put it into words how disappointing, upset and frustrating it really was. It still hurts."
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Photo: Lakers guard Shannon Brown brings the ball into the frontcourt against Nuggets guard Raymond Felton in a regular season game in April at Staples Center. Credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire / April 3, 2011