Detroit Pistons Bruce Brown showing shades of Rajon Rondo at point guard

Detroit Pistons Bruce Brown defends against Los Angeles Lakers Rajon Rondo. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Bruce Brown defends against Los Angeles Lakers Rajon Rondo. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

Second-year Detroit Pistons guard Bruce Brown is looking like Rajon Rondo in his early years with the Boston Celtics. Is that Brown’s future?

Detroit Pistons guard Bruce Brown is coming off one of, if not the best game of his young career. He scored 17 points on 6 of 14 shooting to pair with eight assists, four rebounds, four steals and two blocks.

It became a footnote in a game that featured an epic battle between Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson, who scored a career-high 35 points with 14 rebounds, only to be matched by Andre Drummond‘s 28 points and 23 rebounds. Thompson and the Cavs had the last laugh in a 115-112 win at Little Caesars Arena, avenging a loss on their homecourt Tuesday.

Brown’s game was one that looked like Rajon Rondo in his first years with the Boston Celtics. Of course, Brown is behind the game as Rondo was a 21-year-old rookie and Brown is already 23. But the numbers are strikingly similar.

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Thursday’s game wasn’t Brown’s best game by game score but it looked like Rondo. So did his line in a win against the Houston Rockets. He scored 16 points to go with 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals. It’s flashes like these that show the two-way potential of Brown, especially at the point guard position.

The second-year guard was a defensive specialist in his rookie season but has earned more minutes this season by taking significant steps to improve offensively. In fact, in their respective second seasons, Brown’s advanced numbers mirror Rondo’s fairly closely.

Advanced Table

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Advanced Table

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Generated 1/10/2020.

Of course the two are at very different stages in their careers. Rondo’s numbers were aided by playing with an original Big 3 with Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. In his second year, the Celtics won the 2008 NBA Finals, beating the Pistons in six games which is the last series the Pistons won a playoff game in.

Brown made the playoffs in his rookie season with Blake Griffin having an All-NBA season, a healthy Reggie Jackson and Drummond.

Though the circumstances of the two entering the league were different. Rondo was the 21st overall pick and played 23.5 minutes per game. Meanwhile Brown was selected 42nd overall. He still managed to play 19.6 minutes per game.

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The two were asked to do different things but, clearly, draw similarities in rebounds, steals and turnover rates. Brown’s length at 6-foot-4 allows him to block more shots compared to Rondo’s 6-1 frame. Rondo’s been the better passer but he should be as a point guard, a role Brown is still developing into.

Pistons coach Dwane Casey believed Brown had a future at point guard but he’s having to develop on the fly due to injuries. With Jackson out for all but two games and Tim Frazier missing significant time, Brown has shifted into the role when Derrick Rose isn’t on the floor.

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Old film of Rondo could provide Brown a path for improvement moving forward. Rondo had a quick first step to burst to the rim and strong athleticism to elevate and finish. He had his signature show-and-go move when driving, getting sealed off on the low block and turning around to hit a jumper. His pass fakes, behind-the-back passes and dribbling was extra special and is hard to replicate.

But Brown can learn from Rondo’s play. Brown has shown an explosive first step and can elevate to dunk. Slightly taller, his ability to find open teammates, see passing lanes and thread passes will improve as he learns the system. Over time, he can add the craftiness that made Rondo special and memorable but in the immediate future, Brown needs to improve his dribbling and ball-handling to take his game to the next level and allow him to work off the bounce.

Both are solid defenders, and that will give the Pistons guard staying power in the league over time. His improvements on the offensive end could give the Pistons depth, especially at point guard. He made strides, significantly as a 3-point shooter and passer, that have allowed him to stay on the court last offseason.

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Now he has a blueprint for what it could look like several years down the road.