With the 15th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards selected 6’7″ forward from Oregon, Troy Brown Jr. It’s no question that this move was a head-scratcher to most because of players like Lonnie Walker IV, Robert Williams, and Micheal Porter Jr available at pick fifteen. On most draft boards, Brown was slated to go anywhere from the late teens to the early twenties, so to see him go so early was a shock.
Troy Brown reacts as the Washington Wizards select him No. 15 overall in the NBA draft pic.twitter.com/edLdURFUnE
— Mike Grimala (@MikeGrimala) June 22, 2018
Regardless of where he was on draft boards, the Wizards’ front office clearly saw something in Brown that convinced them he was the right pick.
Following from Candace Buckner of The Washington Post:
“We like the person. He’s a hard worker, picked things up very quickly. He has certain things that you can’t teach,” Grunfeld said. “He understands how to play the game.”
“I love the fact that he can guard ones, twos and threes, and maybe some fours, depending on who he is playing against,” Brooks said. “And then I think he can be a really good secondary pick-and-roll player and you can play him with Brad [Beal], you can play him with John [Wall], you can play him with Tomas [Satoransky], and you can play him with all kinds of players — Kelly [Oubre Jr.] and Otto [Porter Jr.]. I think he just knows how to play. I think it is going to be a great addition to our team.”
While the quotes from Basketball President Ernie Grunfeld and Head coach Scott Brooks were encouraging, many Washington fans were still skeptical of the selection. However, I think Brown’s play in the Las Vegas Summer League opened a lot of fans’ eyes to what he could bring to the table.
In five games, Brown averaged 18.4 points, shot 43 percent from the floor, and hauled in 6.8 rebounds. In spite of the fact that Brown’s jump shot, more notably his shot from three, is a work in progress he shows flashes of brilliance in many other areas making him a swiss army knife type player.
Although Washington invited a handful of point guards to Summer League, the best their offense looked was when Brown played point forward. As the primary ballhandler, Brown showed he has guard-like handles and a willingness to create for his teammates around him as well. However, the most impressive Brown looked was in pick and roll scenarios. He knew precisely when to take advantage of switches and either beat the center to the rim, pulled up for a free throw line jumper or made the correct pass.
To piggyback on his offensive skillset, Brown impressed me the most when he attacked the basket. Whether he’s attacking off of a pick and roll or slashing he’s completely under control and appears to know exactly what he wants to do. It’s no secret Brown’s not the most significant player at his position, but he does a perfect job of both finishing with contact and creating space by keeping his defender on his hip. If his shot isn’t falling, it’s good to know Brown can impact a game in other ways on the offensive end.
To round out his game, Brown is a sound defender that uses his 6’10 wingspan to his advantage by disrupting his assignment. He doesn’t gamble too much and moves his feet well enough to stay in front of most players. To put it in simple terms, Troy Brown Jr is just a basketball player. He may not be a superior athlete, though vastly underrated in my eyes, he plays with a chip on his shoulder and does all the little things a team needs to win.
With all that being said, what’s Brown’s likelihood of cracking the rotation in Washington? I think it’s a difficult question to tackle. As it sits right now, the Wizards backup rotation will be Tomas Satoransky, Austin Rivers, Kelly Oubre Jr, Jeff Green, and Ian Mahinmi (Giving Mahinmi the nod over Thomas Bryant at the moment). Coach Brooks is known for his all-bench lineups in games, whether effective or not, so there aren’t many minutes available on paper.
However, the good news for Washington is they’ll have their very own G-League affiliate for the first time next season. This will allow Brown to continue to develop as opposed to riding the bench. Washington will also have the luxury of pulling Brown to the active roster on short notice if a player happens to get injured during the season. There’s no reason Brown can’t be implemented as a backup guard or wing.
Whatever the Wizards choose to do with Brown, I think it’s very important they find some opportunities for him to get some real NBA minutes. The G-League continues to get better each year, but nothing beats the experience rookies get when they’re thrown out into the fire. Whatever happens, I hope Brown showcases all his skills whenever he does happen to get on the court for Washington next season.