Lorenzo Brown has never played a full NBA season. Prior to joining the Toronto Raptors this past summer, he had only played in a total of 63 games over the course of three years from 2013-2016. The NBA season is 82 games long. However, he just might be on the verge of solidifying himself as a legit NBA player.
A journeyman in the NBA is often described as a player who bounces from team to team, year after year. Brown certainly fits that description. He’s never managed to stick with any team for more than a year, and now he’s trying to find a home with the Raptors.
This has been the best team that Brown has played on since he’s been in the NBA. He’s definitely taken notice of everything about Toronto so far.
“It’s an amazing city and the team’s great. They get you real acclimated, get you comfortable here with really great fans, I’m loving it so far,” Brown told Basketball Insiders. “We all go through our trials and tribulations, so I’m just enjoying the process right now.”
Trials and tribulations are definitely what Brown has gone through since coming into the NBA. He was drafted with the 52nd overall pick in the 2013 draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. They cut him before training camp and he wound up with the then Springfield Armor (now Grand Rapids Drive) of the G-League.
He caught the eye of the Philadelphia 76ers who signed him, only to be cut before the season ended. He was in the G-League when the Detroit Pistons were the next to come calling. But they too cut him right before the start of the 2014-15 season.
It was back to the G-League after that until the Timberwolves, the team that originally drafted him, called him up on a 10-day contract in January 2015. He was impressive during his time with the Wolves. He showed an ability to be an energy guy and effective playmaker off the bench, averaging 3.4 assists during the final two months of the season. It’s that same type of play he’s hoping to bring to the Raptors.
“A lot of energy, just a lot of energy on the defensive end and offensive end, attack the rim and give out a couple of nice assists,” Brown told Basketball Insiders. “A lot of these guys are pretty great scorers, and they play well off the ball, as well.”
Brown has received some meaningful minutes so far in this early part of the season. An injury to Delon Wright pushed Fred VanVleet to backup point guard with Brown getting spot minutes as the third-stringer. His numbers may not be eye-popping, but he’s provided a steady hand.
Although he accompanied the team on their recent West Coast road trip, he’s returned to the G-League for now. Brown actually doesn’t have a standard NBA contract. As part of the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement, teams are allowed two extra roster spots known as two-way contracts.
Players signed to these contracts are only allowed up to 45 days with their NBA team. The rest of the time they are assigned to the team’s G-League affiliate. If they surpass those 45 days, the NBA parent team must sign them to a standard contract or release them. No stranger to the G-League, Brown thinks these new contracts can help.
“Yeah definitely because you get to spend time up top and down low with the G-League team,” Brown told Basketball Insiders. “You develop your game and get good minutes with the team down there too. It’s definitely beneficial.”
There’s been a change in the culture in Toronto that’s been evident for the past few years. No longer is it acceptable to just simply make the playoffs, the organization is striving for something greater.
The past two seasons have ended in disappointment for the Raptors at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The fact remains, however, that while Cleveland has enjoyed a solid three-year run atop the East, the Raptors have given them the toughest series they’ve faced in that time span. They’re the only team to win more than one game against the Cavaliers in the East playoffs, the only team to punch them back.
It’s that mentality that Brown has noticed among the other guys in the locker room. It’s the reason why he has some big expectations for the team this year—expectations that go beyond simply challenging Cleveland.
“We win a championship, honestly,” Brown told Basketball Insiders. “We have great leaders, our bench guys are great too. I think we can win the championship this year.”
His path has been long and winding, but Brown is hoping to have finally found a home.
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