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The Devin Brown Trade and Aaron Gray

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Published: January 26, 2010

First, we need to address one thing:  The trade for Aaron Gray was not financially motivated.  With no Ike Diogu, and Hilton Armstrong  a bust, the Hornets wanted a backup center, but didn’t want to move any real pieces.  So they got what they could for a 32-year old Devin Brown who is probably at his highest trade value ever.  The result was Aaron Gray.  Yeah, Devin wasn’t exactly sought after.

The Good

Aaron Gray is massive.  7-foot.  270 lbs.  He immediately becomes the tallest and heaviest player on a fairly small Hornets team.  His primary attribute – and why the Hornets presumably wanted him – is he has already established an Emeka Okafor-level rebounding rate, and it has stayed rock-steady all three years he’s been in the league.  Gray also showed surprising touch around the basket as a rookie, posting up and scoring at a fair rate, that combined nicely with a decent ability to pass out of double teams.  Having a guy able to score a little on a post-up can only help a second unit that won’t have Thornton’s explosive scoring any more, and for a guy who will probably play only 5-10 minutes, that could be enough of a positive impact to make this a solid trade.

The Bad

Aaron Gray’s rookie season was his best at scoring the ball, and he’s declined sharply in his second and third years. (a la Hilton) Sure, he doesn’t fit into the Bulls current guard-oriented offense, but he also has put on more weight on an already “big-boned” frame.  In fact, it’s possible that if he sets a pick for Darren Collison, the other team will lose sight of Collison entirely, despite Gray standing sideways in front of him.  Though . . . think of the change of direction possibilities! Anyways, he’s slow and not in the best physical shape around.

The Ugly

The defensive numbers for Aaron Gray over the last two years are abysmal.  Due to Gray’s slow feet and propensity to foul, centers averaged a PER of 20 against him, and he most likely was not going up against the cream of the crop while posting those numbers.  The Hornets need help defensively as much as they need help on the boards, and he’s not going to do anything to help them out there.

Regardless of how Gray pans out in a Hornets uniform, there are a few things to keep aware of here that make this a good trade in my book:

  1. Thornton will get Devin Brown’s minutes, and he’s better than Brown at everything but guarding powerful guards.
  2. Collison will get increased minutes, and he was clearly the third best guard on the team behind Paul and (maybe) Thornton.
  3. With both Browns gone, Julian Wright will now get consistent minutes at the wing.  If he gets about 15 minutes per game the rest of the season, we should finally be able to tell if he’s ever going to amount to a rotation player or not.
  4. Aaron Gray is 25.  In the past, with Scott as coach, Bower brought in older re-tread veterans that Scott would trust and play.  With Scott gone, Bower has been going more with youth(The rooks) and younger players that may actually do something.  That is a good thing, and I hope it continues.

For further commentary about Aaron Gray, take a look at At the Hive’s take on Gray’s rebounding, and Hornets Hype’s What We Believe In post about Thornton.  Okay, maybe that last one has only an subsidiary relation to Aaron Gray, but you should read it anyways.  Oh, and I’ve never said it, but I fully support HornetsHype’s move to nickname Marcus Thornton Lil’ Buckets.

One last thing – I wanted to share a bit of a behind-the-scenes joke here at Hornets247.  Every one of our posts has tags that help search engines categorize posts by type or by the players listed.  If we mention Paul a lot in a post, we tag it Chris Paul.  If we’re writing analysis, we tag it as such.

Hornets247 does not have a “Devin Brown” tag.  It always made me laugh that it wasn’t there, but I never bothered to create one either.  Now, I guess, we’ll never have one.  Sorry about that, Devin.

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