Don't get me wrong; I think Shannon Brown of the Los Angeles Lakers has the potential to develop into a solid role player one day.
But, potential, in itself, is dangerous to rely on.
Take a look at the careers of Tyrus Thomas, Gerald Green and Anthony Randolph, whom entered the NBA with so much promise and potential, but have failed to live up to their expectations because—for whatever reason—they haven't grown as players.
Herein lies the problem with Brown. He hasn't drastically improved any aspect of his game since entering the league five years ago.
Sure, he is a terrific athlete who is one of the game's best finishers on fast breaks (just don't watch highlights of the 2010 Slam Dunk Contest), but what else has Brown proven that he can do?
At 6'4", Brown is undersized for a shooting guard and lacks the vision, mentality and passing ability to be a true point guard in this league.
So, what does that make him?
A career 33.7 percent three-point shooting combo guard who has an inconsistent jumper and is just a mediocre defender?
Again, I loved Brown as a member of the Lakers. He is a high-energy player who can come off the bench and shift the momentum of any game with his high flying dunks or ridiculous blocks.
But, with that said, I think he underachieves defensively—with his quickness, athleticism and huge hands, Brown has the potential (oops, there's that dangerous word again) to be a Tony Allen-type of defender—and tries too hard to make big plays instead of just making smart plays.
All too often this season, Brown would dribble at the top of the arc for 10-12 seconds. Then, with the shot clock winding down, he would take a few more dribbles and pull up for an 18-foot fadeaway jumper—that had a 20 percent chance of going in—completely ignoring the presence of Lamar Odom on the court.
It's those mental lapses that make me question Brown's willingness to get better, his attention to detail and his future as an NBA player.
Look, I know Brown is a talented player, but what has he done in his career to prove that he is worthy of being a starter in this league (one of his reasons for leaving the Lakers)?
He can't create shots for his teammates—as evidenced by his 1.1 career assists per game—so when his shot isn't falling, Brown is basically useless in the half-court set. And, although it looked as if he had improved his three-point shot at the start of the 2010-11 season, Brown shot just 26.3 percent in January, 23.1 percent in February and 22.2 percent in March from three-point range.
Thus, because he isn’t a facilitator, playmaker or three-point shooter—three of the Lakers’ main needs this offseason—Brown doesn’t fill any of the Lakers' immediate needs. With him gone, the Lakers can use his roster spot to sign a free agent—one who is willing to sign the mid-level exception, or whatever is decided under the new CBA—who can provide the Lakers with three-point shooting or depth in the frontcourt (i.e., Jeff Foster).
In addition, Brown’s departure makes room for the Lakers' top two draft selections in the 2011 NBA Draft: Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock.
Morris, who ESPN’s Chad Ford projected as a bubble first-round pick, is a true point guard that provides the Lakers with a terrific ball handler, passer, decision maker and defender.
Morris’ ability to create will help to take some of the pressure off Kobe Bryant, who was forced to do most of the work offensively for the Lakers last season—as evidenced by his 33.0 usage rate, the highest of any player in the NBA.
While Morris will fill the Lakers' need as a play-making point guard, Goudelock provides Los Angeles with the three-point threat that they have been missing since the Vlad Radmanovic days…yes, I just wrote Vlad Radmanovic.
Ultimately, from a fan’s perspective, it’s hard to see Brown leave—he was a fan favorite. However, I think it’s a move that will benefit the Lakers, because although Brown was fun to watch, he is at best an above-average player who lacks a three-point shoot and struggles to create for his teammates.