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Jabari Brown proved he deserves a chance with the Lakers

The Lakers are keeping Jabari Brown around, which makes a lot of sense right now.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

One could be forgiven for thinking that the Los Angeles Lakers calling up Jabari Brown for a reunion with his college backcourt mate Jordan Clarkson was a favor to the latter rookie. Brown was the D-League's leading scorer, but that is a piece of trivia that the majority of fans do not familiarize themselves with.

Brown's raw production against D-Leaguers was obviously not something that would continue at the NBA level, but in limited minutes in his first four games for the Lakers, the swingman has shown that he still does have the ability to score in spurts against the best players in the world. Given his affordability, youth, and (most importantly) production when he has been on the court, the news that Brown was signed to a second 10-day contract on Saturday was positive ray of sunshine in what has been arguably the Lakers' darkest season ever.

This darkness pales in comparison to the adversity that Brown and Clarkson had to overcome together to reach the league, as detailed in this Bleacher Report pre-draft profile of the two:

Just two years ago, they were strangers living almost 2,000 miles apart. But today, Clarkson says, "That dude is like my brother."

Their bond was sealed over a hellish 34-day stretch in which Clarkson and Brown—a pair of transfer guards who became Missouri's leading scorers—found out their fathers had cancer and decided the best thing they could do was be quiet, be strong and only show vulnerability within the walls of the apartment they shared together in Columbia, Missouri.

I recommend reading the whole thing. Brown and Clarksons's levels of play aside, it is awesome to see two genuinely nice kids get to fulfill the dream of many youth teammates: suiting up together in the NBA.

But exactly how well have things went for Brown on the court? In his four games since the Lakers called him up to the big show, the scorer has led the team in both true-shooting percentage (63.4) and effective-field goal percentage (65.8), according to NBA.com. The small sample size of 20 minutes per game over just four games must be taken into account, but the biggest factor for Brown in whether or not he can stick in the league will be whether his shooting can transfer. Thus far that seems to be the case, with those shooting percentages being an uptick over Brown's D-League shooting percentages, an improvement that can likely be chalked up to a much lower usage rate (15.4 percent for the Lakers versus 25.8 percent for the D-Fenders.

When he was running in transition in the faster paced, transition addicted D-League, Brown was understandably taking a higher distribution of his shots in the paint (40.68 percent versus 31.6 percent with the Lakers). Part of that has also just been Brown taking smart shots, and capitalizing on what the defense gives him, like here, when Shelvin Mack went under Carlos Boozer's screen, and recovered to late to affect Brown's release:

This is not to say that all of Brown's shots have been jumpers. He also has demonstrated a rock solid ability to finish in the paint, both in transition and after pump faking and darting past a defender who closed out on him too recklessly.

This is actually the most striking thing when watching Brown: his shot selection is great. He has such a smooth transition from maneuver to maneuver to shot, it seems almost as though you are watching a seasoned veteran. While the 22-year-old guard is an older rookie, the sheer control he has demonstrated during his court time is nonetheless impressive, especially when considering the tendency of many young call ups to do too much out of desperation to earn their next contract in one play.

Brown isn't an All-Star talent, but as goes for Clarkson, Tarik Black, and even Ryan Kelly, he doesn't need to be. The Lakers have nothing to play for this season other than auditioning for next one, so Brown being retained for the rest of the season should really be a no-brainer for the front office.

Nick Young sounds less likely to return with each press release, Wesley Johnson is maddening to watch, and Kelly is not a small forward despite Byron Scott's continued efforts to pound that square peg through a round hole. Given all of these factors, Brown should be signed even if just for stop gap wing depth. It is his personal story and relationship with Clarkson, along with his play on the court that should leave everyone dreaming of more.