Editor’s Note: Our #LakersRank continues through the bottom tier, stopping at another wing. Next up is Anthony Brown, who has plenty to prove after a lackluster rookie year.
#13. Anthony Brown
Average rank: 12
Anthony Brown is a curious case. He’s still an incredibly raw prospect that can be an important piece of the Lakers’ rotation during the ‘16-17 season, but based on what we’ve seen from the Stanford swingman, it’s hard to project him making a big impact this year. It’s not that he definitely won’t, it’s that he hasn’t proven otherwise yet.
There’s a point to be made that a young player trying to find his way under Byron Scott was doomed as soon as his name was called on draft night, but look no further than Larry Nance, Jr. to see proof that the opposite was just as possible. Sure, the Lakers’ wing rotation was bloated, but Brown couldn’t secure playing time over Nick Young (who Scott hated) before a foot injury sidelined him for the year. That’s worrisome.
His two "NBA-level" skills were projected to be three-point shooting and perimeter defense. Brown shot just 28.6 percent from deep (70 attempts) and was a far cry from being considered a lockdown defender. It’s difficult to imagine Anthony checking starting-quality small forwards and shooting guards on a nightly basis, but easy to project opposing coaches trying to pick on him on any given possession. Las Vegas Summer League proved to be a just as mixed of a bag for Brown, who showed some of those defensive chops, but still shot a measly 29.4 percent from beyond the arc despite the free-flowing nature of the desert exhibition league.
Out of the young group the Lakers have gathered none have more to prove than Brown.
The perimeter rotation hasn’t opened up for Brown to slide in yet, either. Lou Williams remains, Loul Deng should see plenty of time at the three with Brandon Ingram soaking minutes behind him, and Jordan Clarkson just inked a nifty extension as one of the "featured" young players on the roster. The only player Brown can seemingly edge out in the mix of wings the Lakers have accrued is Young (who was ranked as the least-valuable Laker by our staff), and that could end up as a default if the franchise moves on from the crashed-and-burned-to-the-ground Swaggy P Era.
The plus side for Brown is there’s no reason to think he can’t improve — especially given how uninspiring his first 29 games (599 total minutes) were. Perhaps a change of coaching scenery will be enough to find even a few traces of diamond dust in his core before concluding he’s nothing more than another empty coal mine, but the onus will be on the 23-going-on-24-year old swingman to prove that’s the case. The Lakers have done well drafting deep picks over the years, but we’ve also seen players like Robert Sacre and Ryan Kelly come and go.
It’s too early to lump Brown in that category, but it’s worth a reminder that not every prospect morphs into an NBA-quality level player. For every Larry Nance, Jr. success story there’s an Elias Harris to recall. Lost and mostly forgotten. The Lakers don’t need major production out of Brown in the now, but they do need to see he’s not just another in-and-out second rounder on track for an overnight flight to begin his international journey.
Anthony Brown will have a clean slate to work with under head coach Luke Walton, so there’s reason to remain optimistic despite the few tangible positives we’ve seen from him since becoming a Laker. A stacked rotation, and long road to redemption, lay ahead for the seemingly behind-schedule youngster.