Being fans of Oklahoma State we saw Markel Brown's pro potential. As a guard who can shoot, is a solid defender, can get UP, and has the will to accept whatever role given to him, Brown looked to be a solid contributor wherever he went. Brown fell to the second round of the draft and the Minnesota Timberwolves took him with the 44th pick, and his rights were traded to Brooklyn. A steal if I do say so myself!
Coming into Monday it had been an up and down season for Brown as he was not getting much playing time including earlier this year being assigned to the Brooklyn D-League Team, the Main Red Claws. Brown provided some highlights in his time in the D-League and was shortly recalled back to the Nets.
Markel got some run on Friday in a 9 point victory over the Lakers in which Brown put up 9 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal. After the game coach Lionel Hollins had this to say about Brown:
"I like Markel. He's been playing extremely well in practice lately and I wanted to give a chance to go out there."
This chance turned into Brown's first career NBA start in a shellacking of the Denver Nuggets. Brown recorded a double-double (the first of many, hopefully) to go along with 10 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 1 turnover in 45 (!!) minutes of playing time! Those point, rebound, and steal totals are career highs for Brown. After the game coach Lionel Hollins had more praise for Markel saying he "has earned the right to play."
Prior to the season, many Nets insiders told me that they mocked up a draft-day board with their projections through the first round. They had Markel 22nd on the board and it was a big surprise when he was available at the 44th pick. With that being said, I believe Markel will have a serious role with the team as they make a late playoff push. In his first start with the team -- and first legitimate chance -- Brown played 45 minutes and notched a double-double of 10 points & 11 rebounds plus four blocks to go along with that. He impressed everybody, but really, it wasn't too much of a surprise. Hence why the Nets had him at 22: they truly believed he was one of the most NBA-ready rookies. He'll be starting again tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans and he's expected to be just as active as he was in his starting debut.
The Nets have been trademarked as "old" the last season and a half, but since trading their veteran leader in Kevin Garnett, the Nets are establishing a new identity, one that consists of younger and more athletic players. Not to mention, Nets' coach Lionel Hollins was playing Joe Johnson close to 40 minutes per game prior to the All-Star break. Now with the fresh legs of Markel Brown showing signs of contributing to this team, Hollins can rest Johnson and continue to play Markel. It's a double whammy. Whether it be 45 minutes or 10 minutes -- he should have some sort of role with this team as they make a push for the playoffs.
Hopefully this is the first of many starts for Markel in a long NBA career. Markel Brown and the Nets take on the Pelicans tonight.