Following the painful loss to AEK Athens in the Greek Cup Final a week ago, the “Reds” signed the former Houston Rockets point guard in order to improve their offensive productivity and become one of the grand favourites for the Euroleague title.
That said, the question now is whether Bobby Brown is what Olympiacos are really looking for, with the regular season reaching its turning point.
Even though the Greek giants are second in the standings (16-7 record) and close to the home-court advantage in the playoffs, it was widely believed that the acquisition of a new player (either guard or forward) was essential.
With Brian Roberts and Hollis Thompson playing mediocre on both ends of the floor and Jamel McLean having many ups and downs, most fans believed it was crucial for the club to make changes to the roster.
The heavy defeats to Khimki, Baskonia and Crvena Zvezda on the road deteriorated the situation, yet the three straight victories against Fenerbahce (home), Real Madrid (away) and Valencia (home) brought the team back to the winning track.
However, coach Giannis Sfairopoulos decided to sign Brown, who is expected to make the squad’s playing style more effective and unpredictable, as only captain, Vassilis Spanoulis, and co-captain, Giorgos Printezis, have been the reference points offensively in the last few games.
After a successful spell in Montepaschi Siena six years ago (2012-13), the 33-year-old guard joined the Shenzhen Leopards in China (2013-2016), then returned to Europe and played for Besiktas (2016), only to finally move to the NBA and become a member of the Rockets for two seasons (2016-2018).
With that in mind, it remains to be seen whether he is ready to play again at the top level, just like he did in Siena, or he will need more time to adapt to the European basketball.
If Brown shows he can play at very high standards, then the “Reds” will drastically enhance their offensive performance, as the former Houston Rockets player is a top scorer (he won the Alphonso Ford trophy in 2013) that can score both from mid-range and beyond the arc, while he can easily drive to the basket and create open shots.
Brown’s arrival means the squad adds a player with a similar playing style to Spanoulis’ one, which enables coach Sfairopoulos to redistribute the roles and make the backcourt line strong again.
Until now, only Spanoulis and Janis Strelnieks play consistently, with Vangelis Mantzaris and Roberts not offering decent solutions.
The Greek coach is expected to reduce Roberts’ playing time, with Mantzaris-Spanoulis and Brown-Strelnieks being the duos in the backcourt line.
Spanoulis and Brown will probably not have so much playing time together on the floor (at least in Brown’s first matches), because they don’t play decent defence and there is no doubt the opponents will take advantage of their weakness on the one end of the floor.
Moreover, coach Sfairopoulos will try to make some changes to his defensive plan and strategy in order to cover Brown’s mediocre defensive skills and protect him from committing unnecessary fouls.
Concurrently, with Spanoulis and Brown having a similar playing style, we should wait to find out whether they will be able to co-exist and differentiate their game in order to help the team offensively.
If they manage to do so, then Olynpiacos will become much more productive offensively and coach Sfairopoulos will add more “weapons” to the squad’s arsenal, which will make the opponents’ effort to stop the “Reds” more difficult.
Overall, it’s up to Bobby Brown to show he can still be a game changer and that is why the three-time Euroleague Champions signed him, namely to become the X-Factor on the one end of the floor.
If he is in the ideal playing and physical condition and ready to adapt to his role, there is no doubt he will make the difference for the club and will help the squad become one of the grand favourites to go all the way to the end.
Otherwise, things will become more complicated, although he will certainly need some time to be in shape and understand the team’s offensive and defensive plays.
His debut will probably take place this Friday, March 2, when Olympiacos will play against Panathinaikos on the road, in a classic derby with huge implications, since both teams are still fighting for the home-court advantage.
Brown is expected to have a key role in the match and do his best to help his teammates earn the victory against their arch rivals and come much closer to secure the second place in the standings.