Has Charlie Brown Jr. Earned a Consistent Role on the Sixers?

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

Charlie Brown Jr. has been on quite a journey over the past few weeks. It did not take long for him to make his presence felt, becoming a high-energy player off the bench priding himself on his defensive abilities.

The Philadelphia 76ers, his hometown team, signed him to a 10-day contract on Jan. 3. He quickly made a good impression, debuting on Jan. 7 against the San Antonio Spurs, totaling three points, three rebounds, two steals and a block in 12 minutes. About a week later, the Sixers signed him to a two-way contract. Has his play since being signed by the Sixers earned him a consistent role in the rotation?

Brown Jr. excels on the defensive end, something the Sixers are in desperate need of. His perimeter defense has really come through over the past few games, when the Sixers were without their top two perimeter defenders in Matisse Thybulle and Danny Green.

He had one of his best games this season in the win over the Spurs on Sunday. Head coach Doc Rivers tasked him with the defensive assignment of guarding the Spurs' best player, Dejounte Murray, and he mostly did a good job. He held Murray to 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting while also recording two steals, including this one at the end of the first half.

Brown Jr. brings the right combination of length and athleticism to be an impactful defensive player. Due in part to his ability to disrupt the passing lanes, he is averaging 0.8 steals per game for the Sixers in limited minutes.

He is also a solid rebounder, averaging 3.2 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game. He has proven he has good instincts for where to position himself for rebounds, which has shown up specifically in him averaging 1.4 offensive rebounds per game.

While he already has shown he can defend at the NBA level, his offensive game is incredibly raw and needs a ton of improvement. In nine games with the Sixers, he is shooting 26.7 percent from the field and 12.5 percent from beyond the arc. He has struggled particularly on shots around the rim.

However, Brown Jr. has shown some slight improvement offensively, having his best offensive game of the season in the team's 115-109 win over the Spurs on Sunday. He scored seven points on 3-of-6 shooting from the field, with the Sixers using him as a cutter – similarly to the team's newfound approach for Thybulle offensively – as shown in the play below.

Brown Jr. becoming close to even an average finisher around the rim will help improve his game tremendously. Until he does that, he will continue to have nights where he does not provide anything in the scoring department.

Will Brown Jr.'s minutes disappear once Thybulle and Green recover from their respective injuries? It is unlikely they would disappear entirely since he has proven to be a useful player in the rotation. However, his minutes will be drastically reduced from the 20.8 per game he has been getting since Thybulle was injured against the Boston Celtics.

Despite the major holes in his game, Brown Jr. has done enough to earn a consistent role for the Sixers throughout the rest of the season. He provides in spades exactly what this team lacks: athleticism, defense and length. While clearly being a flawed player due to his issues offensively, Brown Jr. has shown enough on the defensive end to be a contributor for the Sixers in some manner for the rest of this season.

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