Bobcats' Brown putting in work|Forward looks to expand his role with the team

Published 3:23 am Wednesday, July 7, 2010

By By MIKE CRANSTON, AP Sports Writer
ORLANDO, Fla. — After spending most of his rookie season with the Charlotte Bobcats buried on the bench, Derrick Brown is making himself quite visible this offseason.
First, it was the intense, daily workouts that caught the attention of the coaching staff. Now Brown is making his mark with two solid performances in the Orlando summer league.
After scoring 20 points on Monday, Brown had 14 points and eight rebounds in the Bobcats’ 86-85 victory Oklahoma City on Tuesday.
‘‘If I don’t make it in the league it’s going to be because I’m not good enough,’’ Brown said, ‘‘not because I’m not putting the work in.’’
The 6-foot-7 Brown was the 40th pick of the 2009 draft after leaving Xavier a year early. He signed a two-year deal with Charlotte, but failed to get into coach Larry Brown’s rotation.
Brown appeared in 57 games and averaged 3.3 points and 1.4 rebounds.
‘‘He was always the type of guy that if he got in the right position he made a move that everybody went, ’Wow, that’s pretty good,’’’ Charlotte assistant coach Dave Hanners said. ‘‘But he didn’t get himself in that position enough. He’s been doing that a little more often.’’
The biggest question about Brown is where to play him. He was a power forward in college, where he averaged 13.7 points and 6.1 rebounds as a junior.
But at 225 pounds is undersized to play there in the NBA. Hanners, coach of the summer league team, has been using Brown at small forward.
‘‘The trouble with that is, there are some really quick players,’’ Hanners said. ‘‘You think of Gerald Wallace. How would he do moving his feet against Gerald if Gerald really wanted to get to the basket? That’s kind of our mindset, to prepare him for that.
‘‘So we’re asking to get up and pressure people on the perimeter. He may get beat some, but he’s going to learn from it.’’
Brown is doing all he can to get his body in small forward mode. He’s arrived at Time Warner Cable Arena nearly each weekday morning for running, weightlifting and other core workouts with strength and conditioning coach Mike Irr.
‘‘He was the one constant that I saw every day,’’ Hanners said. ‘‘When I came to work I’d look in there at 9 a.m. and he’d already have a great sweat going. He’s trying. That’s all you can ask a guy.’’
With Brown having a history of some knee pain, Irr said they’ve focused on building strength in his hamstrings and lower legs.
‘‘He’s a gifted athlete, but I still see him able to develop a lot more strength and power,’’ Irr said. ‘‘He’s made strides so far.’’
Brown made 6 of 12 shots but committed five turnovers on Tuesday as he faced off mostly with Thunder forward Kyle Weaver, grabbing several rebounds in traffic.
‘‘A small forward being able to rebound is a good asset,’’ Brown said. ‘‘Besides those unforced turnovers, I feel like I played pretty good.’’
Just playing pleases Brown, who logged only 535 minutes last season. He shot 46 percent from the field.
‘‘You’ve always been the best player on your team. You never came out of the game,’’ Brown said. ‘‘So the first time you actually experience sitting, watching and learning, it’s different. But I learned a lot in practice and even the time I did get in. It was sparingly, but I learned.’’
NOTES: Bobcats GM Rod Higgins said he chatted with the agent for restricted free agent Tyrus Thomas on Tuesday. Several teams have expressed interest in Thomas, and the Bobcats are hoping to keep him despite salary-cap concerns. … Jeremy Pargo’s floater in the lane at the buzzer won Tuesday’s game. … G Gerald Henderson had 21 points and eight rebounds. … C Alexis Ajinca had 14 points and six rebounds, but has committed 14 fouls in two games. … The Bobcats will again be affiliated with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League next season. Ajinca spent two months there last season.