The Troy Brown Jr Experiment Has Finally Begun

Washington Wizards (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /

It’s actually happening. With just a month left in the NBA season, Scott Brooks is finally making Washington Wizards rookie Troy Brown Jr a regular part of the rotation. Better late than never?

The Troy Brown Jr pick was a bit of a questionable one on draft night. With the 15th pick in the 2018 draft, the Washington Wizards took Brown, who was seen at the time as a draft-and-stash project. He wasn’t the athletic big man John Wall had begged for in the off-season. And he wasn’t going to have the immediate impact that many wanted the Wizards’ first-round pick to have. However, there’s always upside in drafting a young, lengthy, athletic playmaker that can guard multiple positions.

Buried at the bottom of the roster, Brown struggled to find minutes early on. He played in just 29 of the team’s first 59 games, barely averaging over seven minutes a game. It looked like Brown might end up being the latest entry on a long list of Washington’s poorly developed draft picks. But now, things seem to be changing.

Brown’s Bigger Role

Recently, Brown has slowly been playing himself into a bigger role. Wednesday night’s 132-123 win over the Dallas Mavericks marked the fourth straight game in which Brown has played at least 13 minutes for the Wizards. Since the All-Star break, Brown has averaged just under 13 minutes per game. Since February 25,  when Scott Brooks publicly vowed to find more minutes for the rookie, he’s up to 15 mpg.

In the team’s first 59 games, Brown played more than 13 minutes just six times. He has a chance to do it for the fifth time in five games if he plays for more than 13 minutes on Friday night vs the Charlotte Hornets.

And Brown isn’t just seeing the floor during garbage time at the end of blowouts, either. Brown has quite literally been stealing minutes from Chasson Randle and Wesley Johnson in recent games. In their March 3rd win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Brown found himself getting third quarter minutes that usually go to Randle. In their March 6 victory over Dallas, more of the same, with Brooks giving Brown some of Randle’s first quarter minutes, as well.

Neither Chasson Randle nor Wesley Johnson played in Wednesday’s victory over the Mavericks. That can only mean one thing: The Troy Brown Jr experiment is finally here. (There might be a mini Sam Dekker experiment starting up, as well)

And not  a moment too soon. Assuming the Wizards opt out of Jabari Parker‘s deal and Dwight Howard opts into his, Brown is one of just five Wizards players under contract for next season. With limited money to spend this summer and many holes to fill, Brown could see himself become an even more valuable member of this team.

Why Now?

As exciting as it is to finally see the 19-year-old get some minutes, Brown’s recent play begs one major question: ‘Why has it taken so long?’

Maybe Brooks feared “losing the team.” Or maybe he thought Brown hadn’t earned his minutes. Or maybe he thought other bench players gave the team a better chance to win. It’s tough to say for sure, but he seems to have rationalized it somehow.

If you follow Brooks’ logic, then Brown’s playing time isn’t the result of a failed season. Technically, the playoffs are still possible for the Wizards. And their continued commitment to making that playoff push—visible on the floor and audible in the post-game pressers—means that these aren’t purely developmental minutes. Brown’s gotten enough of those this season in the G-League.

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What it does mean, though, is that the Troy Brown Jr experiment has finally begun. We suggest you enjoy it.