The guys at With Malice declared April 5th to be Unsung Player Day. This post is part of that celebration….
Danny Ferry found the Cavaliers a very special player. A guy that has been so valuable, it is hard to imagine where the Cavs would be without him this season. By the way, this has nothing to do with the 11 player deal in February. This player is Devin Brown, and last night was a prime example.
LeBron James fouled out of a game for only the third time in his career. Whether or not the fouls were deserved doesn’t really matter when the Akron superstar went to the bench with 3:56 left in the game and the Cavs clinging to a 104-101 lead. On the road, without their superstar for the stretch run the Cavaliers certainly could have folded. Instead they came together. It was a team effort that earned them a 118-114 win over the Bobcats, but Devin Brown was the catalyst for the team.
Devin made 5 of 6 free throws and had an assist to Wally Szczerbiak to help ice the game. How Devin got to the line is perhaps just as important as what he did when he got there. Brown is one of the few guys on the team that is comfortable slashing and driving to the basket. He isn’t finisher that LeBron James is, then again who is? He will go to the lane looking to draw the foul, which is exactly what he did last night. In fact Devin went to the line a dozen times against the Bobcats, and made 11. He added 8 assists, matching his season high.
The win could be one of those turning points for the Cavaliers. This could be one of those games that you look back on and say that’s when things started to click. Only time will be the judge of that, but this was the first game that the Cavaliers won this year when LeBron James wasn’t able to finish.
Brown signed a one year deal back in September. He has played in every game this season for the Cavaliers, which might be an accomplishment on its own with the way the injury bug has bit the Cavs. He has started 15 games for Mike Brown, and the Cavs are 9-6 in those games. Most recently he was given the starting job over Sasha Pavlovic, who has struggled since returning from his injury.
“Devin has played well, and we played well with him as starter,” Mike Brown said. “Right now, he deserves to start.”
In March, Devin averaged 9.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists. His athleticism and energy have helped the Cavaliers stay over .500 as the team struggles to find a line-up that works. According to the Hollinger rating system, Devin earns an 11.14 score, which is better than starters Delonte West and Ben Wallace. Mike Brown also knows that Devin won’t hurt him on the defensive end.
So what will happen with Devin after the season is over? Will the Cavs be able to bring Devin back? Has he proved valuable enough to other teams that might have a better cap situation? I’m not entirely sure. But if the Cavaliers are smart, they will find a way to keep this unsung hero.