The NBA: Where ShanWOW Happens

Updated: May 20, 2010

One of the coolest things about following a D-League is when a former player realizes his potential at the NBA level. It doesn’t happen for everyone, but each success story shows why the D-League players do what they do, and why the league is becoming more and more accepted as a place for young talent to find their way.

Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers

I present to you exhibit 12, Shannon Brown. You probably know Brown as the high-flying Laker guard who had what was arguably the greatest missed dunk?non-dunk?dunk attempt in NBA history in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Suns. It was truly a WOW moment. Twitter was buzzing. Replay machines were being burned up. And everyone who saw it live was wondering if they just witnessed someone attempt Michael Jordan’s Space Jam dunk in real life.

But it wasn’t long ago that Shannon Brown was requesting a stint in the D-League in order to get some playing time somewhere in hopes that someone would take notice. In fact, Brown was considered by most analysts as a throw-in, an afterthought in the deal that sent Vladimir Radmanovic to Charlotte for former lottery pick Adam Morrison. Yet he’s undoubtedly had the greatest impact of any of the players involved in that deal. Brown has proven to be an unexpected find for the Lakers, rejuvenating his career and finally finding playing time amid the most talented roster in basketball.

Brown’s basketball journey to the highlight reel in Hollywood was anything but smooth despite his solid basketball pedigree. Back in 2003, Brown was named as a McDonald’s High School All-American and Mr. Basketball in the state of Illinois. He went on to play at Michigan State, where he helped lead the Spartans to a Final Four appearance in 2005 and was named Most Outstanding Player in the Austin Regional. In 2006, Brown was drafted 25th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He didn’t see the floor much as a rookie with Cleveland, playing just 8.8 minutes per game in 23 appearances. He also played one D-League game that year for Albuquerque. The following season, 2007-08, wasn’t much better as Brown appeared in just 15 games with the Cavs before being traded to Chicago. He also played 11 D-League games. In time split between Rio Grande Valley and Iowa, Brown averaged 23.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3 assists per game in 36.9 minutes per game.

Brown signed with the Charlotte Bobcats for the 2008-09 season. He played 30 games and averaged 4.8 points in 11.4 minutes per game before the trade to the Lakers. After arriving in L.A., things began to change. After averaging just 7.6 minutes per game during the regular season, Brown’s tenacity and athleticism caught the eye of Phil Jackson. His playing time nearly doubled in the postseason (13.6 minutes per game), a 21-game stretch when he shot a career best 48 percent from 3-point range.

Brown became even more entrenched in the Lakers’ lineup this season after re-signing with the team in the offseason. He was one of just three Lakers to appear in all 82 games. His averages of 20. 7 minutes, 8.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game were all career highs.

Read more about Shannon Brown’s development as a player in this February article by Andrew Kamenetzky from ESPN’s Land O’Lakers blog.

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