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Sterling Brown Making his Mark in Milwaukee

Sterling Brown speaks to Basketball Insiders about his rise from a second-round pick to timely contributor for the Bucks.

David Yapkowitz

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When players are drafted in the second round of the NBA draft, there is considerably less job security. They don’t have the guaranteed contracts nor the salary of first-rounders. But every season, second round picks emerge as key contributors often outplaying guys drafted much higher than them.

One second round player who has proved his worth to a playoff team this season is Sterling Brown. Brown was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 46th overall pick last summer. He started the season as you might expect for a second-round rookie on a playoff contender: a bunch of DNP’s and the rare garbage time minutes.

But in mid-January, he began to see increased playing time. After Jason Kidd was fired by the Bucks on Jan. 22, he remained in the rotation, especially after the injury to Malcolm Brogdon. As he continues to adjust to the NBA grind, he’s been enjoying every bit of being a rookie.

“It’s fun, I’ve learned a lot so far and enjoyed the time I’ve had so far,” Brown told Basketball Insiders. “I’ve been working hard. I’m going to continue to do that and prepare for this playoff run we got coming up.”

While Brown has come off the bench for the majority of the season, there were a few games where he was put into the starting lineup. On Jan. 20 in his first career start against the Philadelphia 76ers, he put up one of his best games of the season, with 14 points on 5-9 shooting, including 4-7 from the three-point line.

He’s emerged as one of the better long-range shooters on the team, connecting on 35.2 percent of his three-point attempts. He’s shown the ability to play multiple positions from shooting guard to small forward. He’s also shown flashes of great defensive potential on the perimeter.

While Brown is making a somewhat seamless transition to the NBA, he knows that there is still more he can do. His high motor and energy is something that’s seemingly caught the eye of the Bucks coaching staff.

“I’m still adjusting, but I feel like my physical nature and my IQ, my feel for the game, that’s what I do,” Brown told Basketball Insiders. “I play basketball, I love the game, I know the game. I’ve definitely got a lot to learn though. But I come in, I give my all, I go hard and that’s what got me on the floor.”

A big part of adjusting to the NBA is having older guys on the team to learn from. The Bucks have no shortage of veteran players who have years of experience on their resumes. Brown has definitely taken advantage of those resources and noted how several of the guys have taken him under their wing.

“Eric Bledsoe, Jason Terry, Delly is always in my ear,” Brown told Basketball Insiders. “I mean everybody, I get bits and pieces from everybody. But those guys helped me out the most, and Jabari [Parker] definitely.”

Another reason for why Brown believes he’s seen initial success in the NBA is because of the time he’s spent in the G-League. The NBA’s development league has been steadily receiving more and more interest and coverage as a training ground of sorts for players on the cusp of the NBA. With the increased attention, NBA hopefuls have better chances at appearing on teams radars.

For rookies like Brown, it can be a place to stay sharp and refine skills when minutes aren’t readily available with their NBA team. He only played in three games with the Bucks affiliate Wisconsin Herd, but his performance was impressive. In those three games, he put up 21.7 points per game, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals.

“It was good for me because I was able to get up and down. I was able to get shots up, I was able to get in a rhythm again,” Brown told Basketball Insiders. “When I came back up I got some time so that carried over. As far as guys coming out the league, it would be good because scouts are watching them and whatnot. But they just got to work. They got to work, fall into a good situation, get an opportunity and take advantage of it. That’s what it’s really all about.”

As the NBA playoffs arrive and rotations tend to get shorter, it’s unclear what role Brown will have on the team. What he does know is that his work ethic and determination is what will sustain him and help him solidify his place in the league.

“I just got to keep building in all aspects of the game,” Brown told Basketball Insiders. “It’s been a learning experience and I’ve definitely gotten better from the beginning until now.”

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#28 – Jacob Evans – Golden State Warriors

Jesse Blancarte

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With the 28th overall pick, the Golden State Warriors selected Cincinnati Junior Jacob Evans.

Evans represents a solid pick for nearly any NBA team. Evans fits in the mold of a potential 3-and-D role player. Evans improved in his time at Cincinnati, culminating in his junior year, where he scored 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Evans spent three seasons at Cincinnati and rounded himself into a versatile two-way player who can bring a lot of value at the NBA level.

Evans is a very cognitive player, especially on the defensive end. He has a better grasp of his limitations than most players at this stage of their respective careers and is able to maximize his individual defensive ability within a team concept. Evans generally makes the right rotations, double-teams at the right times and funnels his opponents to where his teammates are when he cannot contain the ball-handler on his own. With the right coaching, he could become a valuable defensive wing in an NBA rotation sooner than some anticipate.

Additionally, Evans is more than just a shooter. He led his team in assists last season and has some skill as a playmaker. Evans will be more of a shooter and finisher in the NBA, but the ability to make the right pass, swing the ball when he isn’t open and take the ball off the dribble when necessary make him an intriguing prospect. This is especially true when you consider how valuable a player like Khris Middleton has become over the years, adding layers to his 3-and-D skill set each season.

The Warriors aren’t in need of an influx of talent but are happy to add Evans regardless.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#27 – Robert Williams III – Boston Celtics

With the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have selected Robert Williams III.

Ben Nadeau

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With the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have selected Robert Williams III.

Although there were early week rumors that the Celtics might try to trade up, they’ve ultimately elected to find a difference-maker at the end of the first round instead. For a team that nearly reached the NBA Finals despite debilitating injuries to Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, Boston’s roster didn’t need a wholesale change on draft night. But at No. 27, they’ll be more than happy to leave with the mysterious-but-talented Williams.

Last year, Williams was viewed as a potential first-rounder before he returned to Texas A&M for his sophomore year. In 2017-18, Williams averaged 10.4 points and 9.2 rebounds on 63.2 percent from the field, fueling the Aggies to a 22-13 record. During this current pre-draft process, Williams looked poised to become a mid-first-round selection once again — but his stock faded as the big night got closer. In fact, Williams even decided to watch the draft with his family, even though he was a green room invitee.

His stock has undoubtedly dropped as of late, but this may end up being the steal of the draft — naturally, he dropped right into general manager Danny Ainge’s lap. Williams, 6-foot-10, is a freak athlete that’ll bring a new look to an already fearsome defensive unit in Boston. At A&M, Williams won back-to-back SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors and averaged 2.5 blocks per game. Of course, he’ll get the opportunity to learn from the hard-nosed Al Horford, a five-time All-Star and the defensive linchpin for Boston — a win-win situation for all.

Williams, 20, joins an extremely young core in Boston that also includes Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum, among others.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#26 – Landry Shamet – Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers select Landry Shamet with the 26th overall pick.

Dennis Chambers

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With the 26th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select guard Landry Shamet of Wichita State.

Shamet, if he is able to fulfill his potential, should provide the Sixers with some much-needed shooting, as their rotation was noticeably starved for another deadeye sniper.

A career 43.7 percent three-point shooter, Shamet sank 44.2 percent of his shots from downtown last season, and he did so while firing nearly six attempts from deep a game. Sliding Shamet at the guard position alongside franchise point guard Ben Simmons allows for another weapon at Simmons’ disposal.

Standing at 6-foot-5 and 21 years old, Shamet has the size to play either guard spot in the NBA (especially given Philadelphia’s lengthy and versatile lineup). Along with his shooting ability, Shamet also led the American Athletic Conference with 166 assists last season. With Markelle Fultz still a question mark for Philadelphia, Shamet provides a secondary ball-handler and playmaker, whether in the starting lineup or in the reserve unit.

The first round of the 2018 NBA Draft was a whirlwind for the Sixers, and they ultimately land two guards of very separate varieties: an upside-laden athlete in Zhaire Smith, and a skillful “veteran” rookie whose skillset is established.

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