Lakers intrigued with Anthony Brown’s defense

He began his night walking onto the court sparking little fanfare. He ended his night showing little statistical impact on the box score.

In the Lakers’ 126-83 win over Israel’s Maccabi Haifi on Sunday at Staples Center, rookie forward Anthony Brown made his first career start where he posted only two points on 1-of-2 shooting, zero rebounds, zero steals and zero assists in 22 minutes. But the performance proved significant for reasons beyond the former Ocean View High standout fulfilling his childhood dream in starting for the purple and gold. The 23-year-old Brown also showed promising potential as a wing defender.

“I was real happy with Anthony,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “Defensively he was great. He didn’t try to do too much. He just did the things he’s capable of doing.”

And as a result, Brown will start again when the Lakers (1-3) play the Sacramento Kings (3-1) on Tuesday in Las Vegas. It appears likely Brown will not finish with an impressive box score. But that still might mean Brown will make a lasting impression.

“We got a million scorers. So trying to play defense is my main thing,” Brown said. “It just comes down to at least for me playing as hard as I can. I should be exhausted when I come out. That’s my motto.”

The Lakers could benefit from every drop of sweat Brown exerts in that area.

They finished 29th out of 30 NBA teams in points allowed (105.3) and defensive field-goal percentage (46.6) and 26th in fast-break points allowed (15.1). Scott also described the Lakers’ perimeter defense in exhibition play thus far as “okay” before noting it “could be a lot better.” But even when accounting for Maccabi Haifa lacking any NBA talent besides former UCLA product Dijon Thompson, Brown still played a role in the Israeli professional basketball team shooting only 3-of-11 from 3-point range.

“I was impressed with him,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. “I felt he came in and played extremely well. He was under control and very poised.”

Hence, Scott called Brown “probably one of our best perimeter defenders.” Brown totued his versatility in defending point guards, shooting guards and small forwards.

“He gets after people and he is not afraid,” Scott said of Brown. “He’s a physical type of forward or guard and runs the floor extremely well.”

Scott then compared the Lakers’ 34th overall draft pick to former NBA guard Bruce Bowen. He was known as one of the NBA’s best defenders during his 13-year NBA career, most notably with the San Antonio Spurs (2001-09). Just ask Bryant. But Bowen also developed a reputation for becoming overly physical. Some would even say dirty. Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson had referred to Bowen as “Edward Scissorhands.”

“He’s not Scissorhands yet,” Scott said. “Bruce was a really good defender but he could hack you up a little bit too. Anthony, he has a ways to go to get to that. First of all, he has to get a reputation in this league for being a defender. Then maybe he can get away with being Edward Scissorhands.”

Brown has tried to mold his game more after San Antonio forward Danny Green, Milwaukee forward Khris Middleton and Washington forward Trevor Ariza. But first things first. Brown wants to ensure he plays well enough to stay on the floor.

“When I put on the jersey, I feel like I’m representing not just the team, but everybody that’s watching from my hometown,” said Brown, who grew up in Fountain Valley and starred for five years at Stanford. “So it means a little more to me. There is an extra sense of pride.”


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