Atlanta Hawks Player Preview: Elton Brand
Birthplace: Cortland, New York
Born Date: 3/11/1979
True Position: Power Forward (4)
411: Elton Brand is a big man with an even bigger heart. After being drafted with the first pick of the 1999 draft and signing a contract with the Chicago Bulls, Elton immediately became a philanthropist by starting the Elton Brand foundation in the spring of 2000. The Elton brand foundation provides support to worthy causes in Chicago, Illinois; Peekskill, New York; and Durham, North Carolina. He donated $235,000 to open a reading and learning center in his birth town, Peekskill, in 2004. Outside of being a generous friend to the community, Elton is also a husband to college sweetheart Shahara Simmons and a father to their son, Elton Peace Brand. Elton also wears his entrepreneur hat as he is a founding member and president of Gibraltar Films, a company engaged in film investment, acquisition, production and distribution of motion pictures. The first project of Gibraltar Films was Rescue Dawn in 2007 starring Christian Bale, Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies. Of course, Elton, being the supportive character he is, would attend the film’s premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. During the off season when Elton is not attending movie premieres, catering to his wife or chasing his son around, he likes to practice Bikram yoga (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bikram_Yoga) to stay in shape and extend his career. Listen to Elton as he explains a little about himself and how Bikram yoga helps him at this stage of his career.
Basketball Background: Elton Brand has been a basketball prodigy since the age of 13 when he was enrolled in Peekskill High School in New York where he was instantly added to the varsity basketball team and averaged 40 points and 20 rebounds. He would also play AAU ball with future players such as Lamar Odom and Metta World Peace. By Elton’s senior year in high school he was a nationally ranked player as well as New York State Mr. Basketball.
After a superb high school basketball career Elton was highly recruited by many colleges but chose Duke University to play under coach K. Elton played 2 seasons at Duke averaging 16 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks per game in 60 games. During his sophomore season, Elton lead the Blue Devils to the NCAA Championship game and was paraded with accolades from being named the National Player of the Year, Naismith College Player of the Year, USBWA College Player of the Year, Sporting News Player of the Year, NABC Player of the Year, ACC Player of the Year as well as being the recipient of both the John Wooden Award and the Adolph Rupp Trophy. Elton then would ride the wave out of Duke to test his skills on the next level.
With the first pick of the 1999 NBA draft the Chicago Bulls took Elton Brand from a draft class which included Metta World Peace, Baron Davis, Shawn Marion, Manu Ginobili and Steve Francis who Elton shared the rookie of the year honors with after averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. After averaging 20 points and 10 boards for the Bulls in 2 seasons, Elton was traded to Los Angeles Clippers for Brian Skinner and the draft rights to Tyson Chandler. During the 2002 season, Elton made his first All-Star appearance becoming the first Clipper since Danny Manning in ’94 to do so. Elton would remain a Clipper for 6 more seasons after Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, matched an $82 million contract offer from the Miami Heat. Elton would, at the time, sign the largest contract by far approved by Sterling. Elton’s most productive years were in L.A. including 2006 when he posted career-highs in points per game (25) and field goal percentage (53%) while being selected to his second All-Star team and leading the Clippers to the playoffs for the first time in 9 seasons prior. The Clippers, that season, would go on to win its first playoff series since the ’76 Buffalo Braves by defeating the Denver Nuggets. Elton faced injury problems a couple seasons later, missing 74 games with a ruptured left Achilles’ tendon. Elton opted out of his contract after the season and signed a 5 year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers. The injury bug would again bite Elton in his first season in Philly causing him to miss 53 games with a dislocated shoulder that required surgery. He went on to play 3 more seasons in Philadelphia before being released from the 76ers in 2012 due to salary cap reasons. Elton was claimed off waivers by the Dallas Mavericks last season and averaged 7 points, 6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 21 minutes per game playing 72 games. Elton’s role was mainly as a contributor off the bench though he did start 18 games with the Mavs last season. Elton became a free agent during the off season and decided to bring his talents to Atlanta on a one year deal.
Expectations: Elton is a solid veteran who can spell Al Horford and Paul Millsap at either the power forward or center positions. He’s a smart player with the capability of playing on the inside while being a reliable shooter from 18 feet in. He’s a team player who will get others involved in particularly the guards. At 34 years of age, don’t expect heavy minutes from Elton and perhaps he will miss some games in back-to-back situations. All in all, you can expect Elton to be a true professional.
You can follow Elton on Twitter @TheRealEB42. You may follow me @nottydred. Once again, thank you and stay blessed.