It’s not often that veteran players show significant development in the middle of a season. There simply isn’t enough time for the type of work required to add new skills. But over the last few games, Bryn Forbes, who at 26 years old is already in his 4th year in the league, has demonstrated another level of complexity in his ability to read the defense and make the right play.
Bryn has long had the ability to get into the guts of the defense. His three point stroke is too good to ignore, forcing even defenders in good position to move a half step closer than they’d prefer, which often allows him to create penetration despite not having an elite first step. He began showing a knack for interior passing on those drives late last season but hasn’t been able to consistently find the open man on the perimeter from deep in the paint, at least in part because his drives haven’t always drawn enough help to create good passing angles.
Dejounte Murray hits Bryn in the right corner early in the possession. Cody Martin is in good position and sets up to push him towards the baseline, so he takes advantage of the opportunity, forcing PJ Washington to help off of Trey Lyles in the far corner.
Washington meets Bryn at the edge of the restricted area and, for a moment, looks to have completely shut down the play. But rather than stop and risk getting swallowed up by a double team on the baseline, Bryn launches himself out of bounds to find a passing lane.
You can actually see Bryn progress through his reads. His first option is Trey, but Cody Zeller is already sinking to the baseline when Bryn jumps. The next option is Lonnie Walker IV on the left wing, but Jalen McDaniels shuts that down, too. That leaves DeMar DeRozan open at the top of the key, and Bryn has just enough juice to fire it out to the arc as he’s on his way down. DeMar attacks the catch, which forces McDaniels to sink in to the paint, then fires a bullet out to a wide open Lonnie for catch-and-shoot three and a six-point lead.
If that play looks a little familiar, it’s because Bryn did something similar against the Magic on Saturday, though Trey failed to convert the open look it produced.
The drive is from the top of the key this time, and there’s only one read to make, but it’s still an impressive play and one Bryn has not been able to make with regularity up to this point in his career. It’s not clear yet whether this is something he can do consistently or just a by-product of the space provided by not playing with a center, but it bodes well for his ability to contribute when defenses take away his outside shot.
Of course, two passes — no matter how nice — don’t make up for his other limitations, and even if this is the new normal for Sparty, he’s not going to be taking over full time play-making duties any time soon. But that’s never been the expectation. Bryn’s a role player, and one who is committed to his craft. That he can continue to add new things to his game like this is both a testament to his dedication and a great example for the young players on the roster who are still learning how to be professionals.