The more we watch Maliq Brown come off the bench and flash his potential at forward, the more we understand he needs to play at least 25 minutes per game. The freshman has averaged 35 minutes in SU’s last two games against Virginia and Virginia Tech. In that allotment of time, the former high school football player has punched in 21 points with 20 rebounds.
The Virginia native tallied his first career double-double against the Hokies on Wednesday with 11 points and 12 rebounds. The three-star recruit has logged some impressive minutes off the pine and the last two games aren’t an outlier either.
Think back to when Syracuse played Pittsburgh, Brown played 24 minutes and contributed to the Orange’s big comeback which ultimately fell short 84-82. The forward tabulated 6 points and 9 rebounds in the loss.
On top of that, the next time you look at the box score of a game, please take your eyes to the +/- category. Brown is typically in the plus category and in a big way. Why? Because he can rebound on both ends and score himself. The Blue Ridge High School product is the best combination of offense and defense for the forward position which has been a problem all year for the ‘Cuse.
Chris Bell is a three-point sniper but he has struggled to consistently pluck rebounds and even compete on the floor. As a result, Bell is more often than not in the minus category. Justin Taylor has played at least 19 minutes in each of SU’s last four games and should continue to see time at the 3.
The point here is that Brown needs to continue to play these big minutes and sub out Benny Williams and Bell. The freshman is the best combination for what Syracuse needs at the forward spot and is a good complement to Jesse Edwards.
Fine, Coach Boeheim won’t start Brown but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t continue to rack up massive time for the Orange. The two-way player could emerge as SU’s “X-factor” during the heart of the ACC schedule here.