Washington Wizards: Dissecting Troy Brown’s strong December

The month of December wasn’t kind to the Washington Wizards. But it has been kind to sophomore guard Troy Brown Jr.

Guard Troy Brown Jr is heating up in what’s been a devastatingly cold December for the Washington Wizards.

In their win over the New York Knicks earlier this month, Washington had eight players listed on the injury report. And things weren’t much better in their next game. Even with Jordan McRae’s return, the Wizards still had seven players on the sideline against the Detroit Pistons.

With so many people injured, everything falls on Bradley Beal ‘s shoulders…again. That’s obvious, but the bigger question is who will serve as ‘next man up’ behind him.

Against the Knicks, that was Troy Brown Jr.

With all eyes on Beal, in came Brown, who had his best game of the season, finishing with a career-high 26 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists in 32 minutes on the floor. Behind Beal and Brown’s combined 56 points, the Wizards ended up winning a game they were destined to lose.

For the 20-year old shooting guard, this career-game versus New York didn’t exactly come out of the blue. After a rocky start to the season, Brown has blossomed in recent weeks. In his 14 games this month, Brown’s averaging 11.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.3 steals on a 44/30/74 shooting split.

He may have missed the start of the year with injury, but Brown’s finally finding his footing on the second unit and is taking that sophomore leap.

Slow Start, Strong Finish

Washington entered the season injured and nothing’s changed through the first 30 games.

Brown was one of many Wizards to begin the year on the injury report, held back by a calf strain he suffered in training camp. He only missed three games, but even that short an absence could have contributed to Brown’s slow start.

Simply because of the number of injuries, head coach Scott Brooks has had one of the more difficult coaching jobs this season. Part of that has been trying to figure who contributes best,  and where, which has meant a lot of different lineups. As a result, Brown has shared the floor wt=ith a lot of different Wizards.

Brown started the season on the bench. After four games, he was thrust into the starting lineup. 11 games later, he was back on the bench. But the change from starter to reserve isn’t exactly a demotion fro Brown. With the second unit, Brown isn’t buried behind other scoring options and can thrive as a playmaker. Since moving back to the bench, where he’s averaging 2.8 assists per game.

Even if it’s as Washington’s ‘next man up’, Brown has found a larger role in December and performances like the one he had against New York are reminders of his potential. He’s still just 20 years old.

In his last six games, Brown is averaging 14.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and one steal per game. And he’s doing it all while shooting 48 percent from the field and 43 percent from three. The emergence of his three-point shot is a game-changer. Literally.

Making Room for Improvement

When the Wizards began to lose their top scoring threats—Isaiah Thomas, Davis Bertans, Jordan McRae, and Moritz Wagner—many expected their top-ranked offense to take a hit.

Even if only temporarily, Washington was left with next to no shooting talent, and a blatant hole on offense. Normally the Wizards would look to Beal to amp up the three-point shooting, but he’s in a down shooting year all across the board (44/32/51 shooting split).

Then something miraculous happened (call it a Christmas miracle if you wish) but Troy Brown started taking more shots from behind the arc. And all of a sudden, with a rounded out game that stretched to the three-point line, his scoring kicked into high gear.

Brown’s never been a sharpshooter from three—he shot just 29 in college, and only 32 percent as a rookie last season.

But he’s continuously open along the wing, and often times can make the defense pay for such disregard. Recently, he really has been.

Over his last six games, Brown is averaging a career-high three attempts from three. What  a willingness to fire threes can add to his already versatile offensive arsenal is quite literally, space.

Even if he doesn’t feel comfortable launching the three-ball, Brown will always have room to make a move into the mid-range, or towards the basket, where he scores best. It seems for both himself and the Wizards, three-point shooting is a must in order to improve.

And the data surrounding his month of December suggests such. Over the 14-games played, Brown has made one three-point shot or more just six times, and none at all on seven occasions.

Below are his stats in those situations:

  • Games with < 1 made 3PA  : 8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 2.4 APG.
  • Games with > 1 made 3PA: 16.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 2.7 APG.

In December, the Washington Wizards have NBA’s eighth-ranked offense in December, in addition to ranking in the top-half of the league in three-pointers made, per NBA.com. A lot of that is thanks to Brown’s play. For this to continue and for the 20-year old guard to truly be effective on offense, he’s got to continue to stretch the floor.

For now, opposing defenses are still likely to give him room behind-the-arc. And as long as they do such, he should continue to see an uptick in touches on the ball, regardless of who’s available.

If Troy Brown Jr can focus more on becoming a three-point threat, his game will continue contributing to the Wizards high-powered offense, and inevitably: wins.

 

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