After a decent preseason where he showed why the Pacers forked up $45 million for him, expectations were relatively high going into the regular season for Bruce Brown, as to some, his contract was seen as an overpay, and his offseason activities in Denver also raised an eyebrow or two among Pacers fans.
Those eyebrows were subsequently dropped in the season opener, as Brown silenced all doubters for the moment with a fantastic debut performance, putting up a team-high 24 points on six three-pointers to help lead Indiana to a blowout win over Washington.
While Brown did cool off the next game, only putting up six points on 3/8 shooting in the first Cleveland matchup, he bounced back with 15 points on three 3-pointers against Chicago, despite the loss.
The next game was, unfortunately, the dreaded Boston game, as the team was more or less doomed without Tyrese Haliburton, and that would include Bruce Brown as well. Brown struggled with the Celtics’ tough defense, putting up three points on 1/6 shooting on a night everyone on the Pacers would like to forget, including himself.
A bounce-back game was necessary, and that is exactly what Pacers fans got in the next outing.
In a rematch with the now-healthy Cavaliers in the opening game of the NBA In-Season Tournament, Brown showed out, putting up 19 points with three 3-pointers, including some big shots down the stretch to help the Pacers win a close game against a very talented Cavaliers team.
In the first five games of the season, Brown has done quite well for himself, averaging a career-high 13.4 points on 50/50/75 efficiency and grabbing 4.4 rebounds in about 31 minutes of playing time.
While these stats don’t exactly jump out to you on paper, this is what the Pacers were looking for when they signed Brown to that $45 million contract: A 3-and-D wing who can guard the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer while also being capable of hitting some shots of his own on the other end.
He has fit seamlessly into the Pacers offense so far, sometimes being their only source of offense during some rough stretches. With that being said, $45 million is still a lot of money, but I think Brown is doing a decent job of living up to the hype so far.
Final Grade: B (Not exactly an All-Star, but exactly what Indy needs so far)