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Shannon Brown: Should the L.A. Lakers Trade Him or Trust in His Potential?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IJune 3, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31:  Shannon Brown #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers leaves the court after his ejection during the games against the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on March 31, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Potential can be a tricky thing when it comes to speculating on how good any player can really be, because on one hand you have players like Orlando center Dwight Howard who are already great, but could be legendary, then you have players like Los Angeles Lakers guard Shannon Brown.

Unlike Howard Brown is not blessed with the same size and sheer physical presence, but he is just as athletic as the Magic center and could be a great player in his own right if he could ever manage to show any real progress in his game.

Brown just completed his 5th professional season and in many ways it was the same as his first four, as he demonstrated the ability to be a game-changing talent with his energy and athleticism, but he was never able to play with a consistent effort.

Brown did average a career high 8.7 points per game during the 201-11 regular season, and he also averaged 7.2 points per game during the 2011 NBA Playoffs which nearly two points higher than his career average.

But after five seasons as a pro we should be discussing Brown's development in terms of leaps not baby steps, and what makes it even more damning is the scope of Brown's potential.

At 6'4 Brown has decent size but what really makes him stand out is his explosiveness, quickness and highlight reel leaping ability.

Brown is usually good for at least one or two SportsCenter moments a week and has the type of talent that has superstar written all over it, but up until this point Brown has not displayed the motivation to excel in any one particular area.

Brown has decent enough ball-handling skills to serve as a secondary ball-handler, but he has a tendency of dropping his head when he attacks the basket, and often misses wide open teammates as a result.

Defense is the area where Brown could really shine because his long arms, quick first step and large hands should make him a terror in the passing lanes.

But the only way Brown will ever be an above average defender is if he finds time to work on the fundamental aspects of his game, and attains the type of focus that is needed to be a consistent defender.

The Lakers decision to hire Mike Brown as the coach to replace the retiring Phil Jackson is the first of what is expected a series of moves designed to help Los Angeles return to the NBA Finals.

There are certain to be players moved this offseason and beyond Kobe Bryant no other Laker is probably safe from the winds of change.

General manager Mitch Kupchak demonstrated his faith in Brown last season by granting him a four-year $16 million contract extension, but after another season of minimal development in Brown's game, does a new contract guarantee security?

It probably depends on which type of approach the team decides to go with because if the Lakers choose to chase one of the big name free agents in the class of 2012, then Brown's youth and athleticism could be an intriguing bargaining chip.

And then there is the case of Brown's enormous potential and if he will ever begin to show strides in his game like Howard has, or will Brown forever be relegated to the status of another brown who served his own stint as a Laker.

Everyone remembers the former No. 1 pick Kwame Brown who played a few forgettable moments for the Lakers, and was also prone to glimpses of the talent that made Michael Jordan select him with the first pick.

The Brown thing never quite worked out for the Lakers but it did lead to the acquisition of Pau Gasol which has almost directly resulted in two NBA championships and three Finals appearances for the Lakers.

The real question with Brown is, do the Lakers keep waiting for him to develop into a consistent player or apply the lessons learned from the Kwame Brown era?

I will never question the potential of Brown to be a pivotal member of the Lakers rotation, but there are serious doubts on whether or not if he believes in himself enough to live up to his promise.

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