Injuries are never something that NBA teams want to deal with, but they’re an unfortunate part of the game — ask any franchise, they’ll agree. But when NBA teams get hit with injuries, it usually opens up opportunities and playing time for other players to step up and contribute.
The Washington Wizards are currently in the midst of an injury epidemic with six players likely out for their next game — and, of course, that’s in addition to John Wall, who will miss the entire season with an Achilles injury.
Looking down the Wizards’ roster, one player who has the opportunity to really establish himself and emerge as a reliable option at this time is Troy Brown Jr. Brown has had somewhat of an inconsistent start with the Wizards and his role as a rookie last season was a bit up and down.
He spent time with the Capital City Go-Go, the Wizards G League affiliate while seeing limited minutes with Washington. This season, he’s bounced back and forth between being a starter and coming off the bench. In any case, he’s found himself in a different situation this season in a rather quick amount of time. It’s been a bit of an adjustment for him, especially now that he’s dealing with the wear and tear of a full 82 game season.
“Obviously, the biggest thing is my playing time. It’s the situations that I’m in, the role that I’m playing, those are the biggest things right now. I’m just taking on more responsibilities this year,” Brown told Basketball Insiders.
“Another big thing I had to learn was we play 82 games now. You’ve got to be able to move on, you’ve got to be able to play the next one. You can’t dwell on the last game for too long.”
As a rookie, Brown saw playing time in 52 games with the Wizards including 10 starts. In 14 minutes per game, he averaged 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists. Thankfully, it seems, Brown really had the chance to develop his game during his time with the Capital City Go-Go. He only played in 11 games with Capital City but showed an ability to be a scorer and a facilitator; putting up 16.6 points per game on 49 percent shooting from the field and 37.5 percent from the three-point line.
In the past, NBA players often saw the G League as being something negative and a punishment to be sent down. For a new age of up-and-comers, however, the perception of the league has changed over time and Brown definitely found it to be beneficial to his development.
“I would say so just because I wasn’t getting a lot of playing time with the Wizards,” Brown said. “To be able to be on the floor and actually get some reps in, I feel like that definitely helped.”
Now that Brown is seeing regular NBA minutes, he’s had to make an adjustment to the way he’s used to playing. When he was at Oregon, he played an on-ball role and acted as a primary facilitator for the Ducks. Needless to say, playing with the ball in his hands has long been his strong suit.
But with the Wizards, he’s had to change his game a little bit. When he was moved into the starting lineup in early November, he took on more of an off-ball role by playing small forward. He admits that he’s still not quite sure about his role, but that he’s just trying to figure out how best to fit in with the team.
“I’m still trying to figure it out,” Brown told Basketball Insiders. “Right now, the biggest thing is just trying to find my spots and do whatever I can to impact the game and help the team. Right now, I’ve been trying to cut and play off-ball, things like that.”
The Wizards have two capable ball handlers in Isaiah Thomas and Bradley Beal, so it’s not all that surprising that the team has asked Brown to take more of an off-ball role. It’s a role that Otto Porter thrived in when he played off Beal and John Wall too, notably.
In any case, Brown has had a solid season thus far while he’s adjusted. He’s since moved back to the bench, but the youngster has tallied 9.4 points per game on the season while shooting 45.2 percent from the field. He’s also pulling down 5.5 rebounds and dishing out 2.3 assists, which, given the circumstances, injuries and context is an exciting development in Brown’s game.
He grew up watching both Thomas and Beal in the NBA and, for him, it’s been a pleasant experience to learn how to play off of them.
“I’m just trying to figure out when to get my shots up and stuff like that. That’s definitely one of those things that playing with [Thomas and Brad] and trying to figure that out together, that’s something that’s humbling,” Brown told Basketball Insiders. “These are guys I watched when I was younger. It makes you keep going and understand that there’s more to it than basketball.”
As the season progresses, Brown, like any developing player, has areas that he’d like to improve upon as he continues to grow his game. Offensively, he has things he’d like to work on — but the other end of the court is where he wants to make a name for himself.
“I just want to be able to hit more shots and make plays for my teammates,” Brown said. “And defensively, it’s being able to be a defensive stopper each night, especially on All-Star players.”
He’s still a work-in-progress, but if the recent contributions are any indication, the talented Brown is well on his way.