Observing Brian Bowen

March 7, 2019

by Alan Lu

I took the opportunity to watch Sydney Kings’ 6-7 forward, Brian Bowen play in a November 24th, 2018 game against Melbourne in the NBL with thanks to Fox Sports.  I decided it was time to see him play in a game this year, as he could be slated to be a second round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.  While he did not take as many jumpers as expected, Bowen is an energetic, athletic basketball player that will compete hard on both ends of the floor.  Here are my thoughts on how he fared in this contest, as well as how his game may translate to the NBA.

Brian Bowen did a very good job of scoring on hustle plays.  He ran the floor hard to score quickly off the glass in transition, and he also would get quick scores off of backdoor cuts to the basket.  He showed a knack for scoring off of cuts, as he will look to move off the ball on offense, and he will put himself in prime spots to score on off-ball motion plays.  He also managed to draw free throws as he was fouled after running down an offensive rebound late in the game.  He also looked to score in the post quite a bit, and he showed a decent ability to garner scores from the block.  Though he missed on a couple of turnaround jumpers as he would force up some contested shots in traffic, Bowen was able to score on another while getting an extra free throw afterwards due to his tenaciousness in looking to score from down low. 

Plus, he showed a decent ability to score on half-court drives, as he was able to draw free throws after using a spin move from the high post, and he possesses a solid first step when driving from fairly close distances.  However, he may struggle to create his own shot consistently when he is further away from the basket.  On a separate play, he was called for a clear-out as he extended his right arm to try to get by a defender out on the perimeter, which led him to commit an offensive foul that time.

On the other hand, he actually didn’t actually look to shoot as many jumpers as expected, and he didn’t do a great job of making them.  Well, he did manage to draw three free throws after an opponent fouled him on a corner three due to over-aggressiveness, but Bowen missed on a quick contested three once, and he also missed on a pull-up long two.  He did appear to make a long two-pointer, but it was waved off due to him being called for a clearing out when making a move off the dribble.  Though Bowen didn’t make a three in this game, he has made 34% of his three-pointers in the NBL this year through 30 games played.

Also, Bowen displayed decent playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he will keep the ball moving to set up scoring chances for his teammates, but he threw a weak dribble handoff pass once that was almost picked off, and his lone turnover came on that play where he was called for a clear out with his right arm.  Adding to that, Bowen did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He will actively look to crash the glass on both ends of the floor, and he is a good that athlete that has a solid motor that allows him to haul in plenty of boards.  He would leap up to get boards for his team, and he also managed to tip a ball to a teammate to help his team get a defensive rebound.  Also, he would box out his opponents to prevent opponents from getting easy opportunities to collect rebounds.

Defensively, he may still need to improve his ability to guard on the ball on that side of the ball.  For the positives, Bowen was able to rotate to block a shot off of a ball ferociously to a teammate.  On one play, he also guarded a quicker player to contest a pull-up mid-range shot to force a miss another time.  When in position, Bowen can use his length and leaping ability to successfully challenge shots, as he can make it difficult for his opponents to get their shots off.  Also, he will play passing lanes in an attempt to get steals.

However, he tended to gamble too much defensively as he has a huge tendency to cheat off his man, and he generally had trouble guarding quicker players out on the perimeter.  Bowen fell down once when chasing an opponent off the ball, he did recover to contest the three, but his opponent ended up making that shot.  Another time, Bowen ended up getting beat off the dribble by Casper Ware on a switch, which forced him to commit a foul on a drive to the hoop.  Later, Bowen left his own man as he roamed off the ball to double in the post, but it led his team to let an opponent score on an open three-point basket.

In general, Brian Bowen is an athletic, high-motor swingman that could project to be a 3 and D type of player in the NBA.  He might not be as dynamic of a player as initially thought, and he might not project to be a high-end scorer at the next level, but he can score off off-ball motion plays, knock down an occasional spot-up jumper, and he also has some defensive skills.  It is especially encouraging that Bowen was relied upon in crunch time, and even though he hasn’t received consistent playing time, he has shown that he can play well in a fairly high level professional basketball league.  Right now, he likely projects to be a second round prospect for the upcoming draft.  If he can be a more consistent player in games and be able to adjust to the NBA three-point line, Bowen could end up being an effective role player in the association, as he could end up being a similar player to Houston Rockets’ forward, James Ennis in the league.