A lot has been made about whether or not Troy Brown was the right pick for the Wizards, which surely will be debated for years to come. However, at Summer League, we can put that debate to the side for a few moments because we’ll get our first chance to see how he’ll perform against other NBA talent, starting with his debut on Friday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
What does he bring to the table?
Brown played point guard in high school so he has a unique ability to facilitate on offense for a wing player. His ability to run the offense through the wing has helped him draw comparisons to players like Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner.
His ability to handle the ball for the second unit would be helpful given the lack of shot creators the Wizards have had coming off the bench over the years. It gives the Wizards some options for some flexible lineups where they can keep Wall and Beal off the ball and conserve energy while they are playing with some of the second unit.
Another skill that works with him tremendously is he is very adept at running pick-and-roll. It’s an important skill for any perimeter player to have in the NBA, and one that is rare to find on this team. Beal has improved that area of his game and it opened up a lot more scoring opportunities for him, but it also helped him to set up his screeners for easy baskets and spot-up 3-point shooters. The hope will be that Brown can do much of the same. Since Brown is not a reliable shooter, putting shooters around him while using his pick-and-roll skills can still allow him to be a threat on offense.
High Basketball IQ
Brown lacks explosive athleticism but he makes up for it with craftiness and a great understanding of the game. On defense, he understands positioning, does a good job anticipating the passing lanes, and plays solid team defense without gambling. It also helps that Brown has a 6-10 wingspan that would allow him to guard bigger wing players.
On offense, he does a good job of keeping the ball moving. The ball does not stick in his hands. If he sees an opportunity to find an open man, he looks for them. This allows him not only to facilitate, but it also allows him to be efficient when he is not the primary ball handler.
He is also good at moving without the basketball. He understands spacing and find lanes to cut to the basket in a much similar way that Otto Porter Jr. is very adept at doing. This gives him another way of still being effective on offense even without having much shooting range.
What is a realistic expectation for him in his rookie year?
Brown has some skills that allow him to be NBA ready, but he also has a number of players ahead of him on the depth chart. His potential to crack the rotation will depend on how he develops his skills between now and the start of the season.
If he is able to crack the rotation, he will likely be Bradley Beal’s primary backup and could work well as a facilitator next to Austin Rivers. With that said, there are things that Brown can do during this year’s Summer League session that could help him to get into the Brooks’ rotation soon.
Brown was a 29 percent 3 point shooter at Oregon last year. Much has been made of his inability to shoot. With so much of the modern NBA game being about floor spacing, being a threat to hit a jumper will go a long way to making him a useful player going forward for the Wizards.
Teams will try to play off him to prevent dribble penetration until he can shoot well enough to make them take a new approach. He’ll need to show improvement as a shooter, or else find ways to exploit how teams are guarding him in order to make a case for minutes.
While Brown has shown great vision running the break, odds are he won’t be the one pushing the ball as much in Washington, which means he’ll need to improve as a finisher.
Unfortunately, His touch at the rim isn’t quite there yet and he doesn’t have the elite athleticism to power through players at the rim. It was a challenge for him at Oregon which will only get harder against bigger, stronger players in the NBA.
Much has been made of Brown’s lack of quickness, but it will be hard to gauge how much that matters until he’s facing NBA talent? Given that the Wizards are a team that prefer to switch on defense, any perceived weaknesses on defense will be exposed by opposing teams. Will he be able to stay in front of quicker guards? Can he use his length to compensate against quicker opponents? How he answers these questions in Las Vegas will play a big part in what kind of role he gets to start out his NBA career.