BROOKLYN — Michael Porter Jr. sat in the green room next to his agent Mark Bartelstein. Porter’s mint suit looked rustier than it did when the draft first began. As each of his peers hugged their parents, walked to the podium and shook Adam Silver’s hand, Porter became increasingly more impatient, shifting in his seat often enough to warrant a pat on the back from Bartelstein.
Once considered a top pick, Porter’s stock plummeted after teams deemed his back injury too much of a risk, even for a player of his talent. For a time, it seemed like the Wizards were going to be in position to get a real player – an opportunity to gamble with a chance to land a potential franchise-changing forward.
Then the Nuggets took Porter at 14.
Washington, still, was left with options. Donte DiVincenzo. Lonnie Walker. Zhaire Smith. All of them were in the green room, waiting to hear their names.
I rushed backstage to the media room, hoping to capture a live-stream of the press conference. Washington was going to get a difference maker – someone the fans would recognize and actually look forward to watching.
I checked my phone, knowing Adrian Wojnarowski would fail to resist the urge of spoiling the pick.
Washington is locked on Troy Brown with the 15th pick, league source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 22, 2018
Who. The. Hell. Is. Troy. Brown?
I googled his name quickly, read a scouting report and asked media members around me for a quick rundown on his game. He’s versatile. Kind of like Tomas Satoransky. He can’t shoot, though. But he’s young. And, according to Ernie Grunfeld, he likes to work out – so that’s good, I guess. Bright side is, he’s not Andray Blatche.
As I researched Brown, DiVincenzo (the 17th overall pick) came to the press conference, answered a handful of questions, then left. Walker (the 18th pick) did the same.
Where. The. Hell. Is. Troy. Brown?
I shifted in my seat and my patience grew thin.
I asked an NBA official where Brown was – how much longer until he showed up to the press conference?
“Oh, he’s not here.”
“Like, not in the arena?” I responded.
Troy Brown wasn’t one of the 20 players the league invited to the green room. Dozens of other prospects attended as well—like Dzanan Musa, who I chatted with as he patiently waited to get selected by the Nets with the 29th overall pick—but Brown opted to spend the night in his hometown of Las Vegas.
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
Washington needed an immediate contributor. They needed someone with upside – an elite skill that would translate to the league instantly. Brown doesn’t seem like the answer – but most of the draft is a crapshoot anyway. Maybe he’ll pan out, but it seems like the odds are stacked against him.
Issuf Sanon? I’d never heard of him either, but would safely bet on him never playing in Washington, given their poor track record of stashing second round picks.
In a night, Ernie Grunfeld struck again. A moment of hope dashed, only to be replaced with a familiar feeling of disappointment – a feeling more recognizable than the picks he’s made.