Amidst a wild season for the Washington Wizards, Troy Brown Jr. looks like he is finally gaining his footing on the floor.
When the Washington Wizards drafted Troy Brown Jr. with the 15th pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, there were very mixed feelings. Not necessarily because of Brown himself but because of some of the other players still on the board. Names like Zhaire Smith, Lonnie Walker, and Robert Williams were highly-touted and still on the board when the Wizards surprisingly selected Brown.
Very quickly, though, Brown showed why the Wizards took him so high, showcasing his “do-it-all” skillset during the 2018 Summer League games. It wasn’t long before Brown showed he can handle the ball, rebound well, and slash to the hoop with authority.
Despite a good Summer League showcase, expectations weren’t crazy high for Brown in year one. He was low on the depth chart on a Wizards teams that had just added Dwight Howard, Austin Rivers, and Jeff Green, and was hoping to compete in the East.
However, as we all know, the 2018-2019 Wizards did not live up to expectations thanks to the injuries to John Wall and Dwight Howard. As the playoff hopes slipped away and player after player was traded away, many expected Brown’s minutes to spike. However, it did not.
The puzzling part of the lack of playing time for Brown was the fact that in his limited minutes, Brown looked pretty good. For some reason, though, Brown still found himself on the bench for a majority of the year even after the Wizards decided to pack it in and give him more opportunities. Towards the very end (and let me emphasize VERY END) of the season, Scott Brooks finally decided it was time to give Brown a few starts, and just as he did in Summer League, he performed as advertised.
A Second Chance in His Second Season
Going into the Summer of 2019, many people believed that the starting small forward position would be Tory Brown’s to lose. With a young roster and development as the main goal for the season, everything was lining up for Brown to become a regular starter.
Unfortunately for Brown, this season did not start the way he may have wanted. Brown suffered a calf strain towards the end of September. Although this injury only kept him out of the first three games, being kept out of a majority of training camp can be costly for a second-year player trying to make that jump.
Since returning to action at the end of October, it has been a roller coaster ride for Brown with a glut of inconsistent playing time. Being thrust in and out of the lineup, whether due to injury or new lineups, seemed to mess with Brown’s confidence and rhythm.
As a 20-year-old, second-year player, I can’t say I blame the kid for this, either. You have to have a plan with a young developing player like Brown, and up until recently, it did not appear that Scott Brooks (or anyone else) had one.
However, it finally seems like Brooks and Brown finally got on the same page, and it has definitely paid off. Recently, Brooks moved Brown back to the bench and is letting him play to his strengths with the reserves.
Over the past ten games, has started just three and is averaging 14.7 points and 7.4 rebounds in about 31 minutes coming off the bench. Despite not being a regular starter, Brown has been on the floor during crunch time in the fourth quarter. This all seems to be doing wonders for Brown’s confidence.
A Change in Confidence
Lately, Troy Brown looks like he is letting the game come to him and is doing exactly what he should be doing. As a more positionless player Brown has come off the bench as a secondary ball-handler who can guard multiple positions. He sees the floor well and has been a beast on the glass.
After a poor night against the Portland Trail Blazers in which he shot a modest 3-10 from the field during a blowout loss in which he started, Brown followed this up with one of the best games of his career. In a shocking upset of the Denver Nuggets, Brown came off the bench and scored 25 points and grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds.
This season, Brown has started in 17 games. In those games, he’s averaged 8.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists while shooting 41 percent from the field (29 percent from three).
In 19 games off the bench, though Brown’s numbers are better across the board. In those games, he’s averaged 13 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists while shooting 49 percent from the field (31 percent from three).
With a more positionless role as a reserve, Brown seems to be more comfortable and more aggressive when he isn’t the fourth or fifth option as a starter.
Is the Best Yet to Come?
Obviously, as a player still early in his development, Troy Brown Jr. has all the tools to become a very good NBA player. He has the type of “glue guy” game that every NBA team covets.
As the season progresses and Brown continues to get more opportunities, it will be fun to watch him really figure his game out an continue to develop.
Troy Brown Jr. has the type of game that could help any NBA team regardless of where they might be in the standings. His play can warrant more minutes on a younger team like the Wizards have as they try to regain their position in the Eastern Conference over the next few years. With the Wizards planning on potentially trying to be competitive next season, Brown’s game is also something that could become very important as the return of All-Star Point Guard, John Wall looms.
Brown is the type of player who can help the Wizards both in the short term and the longterm, and if he continues to play this way, he will become an invaluable piece of the new-look Wizards. As we continue to watch Troy Brown develop in the NBA, it’s a nice breath of fresh air to see him get the opportunities he deserves.