Cavaliers (3-11) vs. Suns (6-8) – Game #15

OPENING TIP

Remember Shannon Brown? He’s the first-round draft pick who couldn’t cut in Cleveland.

Actually, you can’t blame the Cavaliers. Brown couldn’t cut it in Chicago and Charlotte, either. It wasn’t until Brown landed in Los Angeles with Lakers coach Phil Jackson that Brown made something of himself in the NBA. Now, he’s faring well in Phoenix.

Brown was drafted by the Cavs with the No. 25 overall pick in 2006. If you remember, that was the same draft in which the Cavs selected Daniel “Boobie” Gibson with their second-round pick.

Gibson was capable of playing both guard spots and became an immediate contributor off the Cavs’ bench, a position he holds today. Brown just sort of sat, and understandably sulked — although he did show flashes of promise when he got on the floor.

But he couldn’t figure out or find a role in Cleveland, and then-coach Mike Brown more or less gave up on him. Shannon Brown was promptly shipped to Chicago as more or less a “throw-in” in a package deal.

Today, the 6-foot-4 athletic shooting guard is a double-figure scorer. He’s averaging a career-high 12.2 points, mostly as a sparkplug off the Suns bench behind starter Jared Dudley (although Brown has occasionally started).

In the last game against the Cavs (Nov. 9 at Phoenix), he was a huge reason the Suns were able to overcome a 26-point deficit in the second quarter to win. Yes, the Suns trailed by 26 points — and won. Brown scored 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting in that game. More than that, he always seemed to be making a play, confusing the Cavs with an array of drives, dunks and deep jumpers.

None of this is to say the Cavs blew it with Brown. Some guys take longer to come around. Some guys are “system” guys — meaning they flourish in certain situations and are totally ineffective in others. And some guys just mature slower.

Whatever the case with Brown, he’ll always have the Cavs to thank for being the first NBA team to take a flyer on him late in the first round.

But odds are, tonight in Cleveland, he’ll be trying to remind them what they lost.

VENUE

Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland

TIP-OFF

7 p.m. EST

TELEVISION

FOX Sports Ohio HD (Cavaliers Live pre-game show begins at 6:30 p.m.)

RADIO

Cleveland – WTAM-1100 AM (broadcast begins at 6:30 p.m.)

PROJECTED STARTERS

Suns

C – Marcin Gortat; PF – Markieff Morris; SF – Michael Beasley; SG – Shannon Brown; PG – Goran Dragic. Coach: Alvin Gentry.

Cavs

C – Anderson Varejao; PF – Tristan Thompson; SF – Alonzo Gee; SG – Dion Waiters; PG – Jeremy Pargo. Coach: Byron Scott.

NOTABLE

This is the teams’ final meeting of the season. … Gentry has tinkered with the lineup recently, moving Morris and Brown into starter’s roles, and bringing Luis Scola and Jared Dudley off the bench. … This is the Cavs’ fourth game in five nights and fourth back-to-back of the season. … So while it’s a home game, Phoenix is the team that’s been in Cleveland since Sunday. The Cavs flew in late last night after a loss to Memphis. … The Cavs have been quiet about the schedule, but they really should file a complaint with the league office. Especially when you think about how the league-darling Lakers played nine of their first 11 at home. … Varejao is coming off his fifth straight double-double and leads the league in rebounding at 14.7. … Gee is shooting 88 percent from the free-throw line. … The Suns lead the all-time series, 61-39.

Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO