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Troy Brown Jr.’s rookie year was a tale of two halves

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Troy Brown fell victim to the Wizards uneven plan to develop him, but despite that he was able to make the most of his opportunities late in the season.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Brown Jr., the Wizards’ 2018 first round pick was a tale of two different halves. In the first half, he barely played despite the team struggling to find consistent players off the bench.

Fans had to struggle with watching the likes of Ron Baker receiving minutes early in the season over him while the Wizards struggled on the court. It looked like Brown would be a classic case of a player who was held back by the Wizards without a true rhyme or reason and without a discernible plan for allowing him to be in the regular rotation.

Before the All-Star break, his rookie campaign started off very similarly to Otto Porter Jr’s in the 2013-14 season. Both were relegated to garbage time minutes without a true opportunity to stick in the regular rotation. Unlike Porter though, Brown was in the fortunate position to play on a team that was no longer in playoff contention and had little incentive to play veteran players over him.

Otto Porter Jr. vs Troy Brown Jr. 1st Half of Rookie Year

Player Games Played Team Games Minutes Per Game
Player Games Played Team Games Minutes Per Game
Porter Jr. 23 52 9.3
Brown Jr. 29 58 7.2
Credit: NBA.com/stats

The first half of the season was certainly negative, but it wasn’t really Brown’s doing. What about the second half?

Positives

Here’s the good news. The tale of Brown’s second half was much brighter than the first. He was given more consistent opportunities to play. We saw more flashes of potential as a scorer and passer.

After the All-Star Break, Brown’s minutes jumped nearly 15 minutes more a game. He started 10 of those games, averaging 10.4 points per game on 43 percent shooting. During this time he showed greater confidence in his all-around game, being more aggressive scoring, looking to make plays and even facilitating for his teammates.

The future is bright for Brown. He has shown flashes at being a solid rotational player. He has a great feel for the game and at times it really showed when he was given consistent minutes.

His breakthrough performance during the Wizards’ upset win over the, at the time, Western Conference-leading, Denver Nuggets showed what Troy Brown can be. He was able to score 24 points, including hitting 5-of-7 threes. Can he do that more in the future? It will be a lot of fun to see if he can replicate it going forward.

Areas for Improvement

Will the Wizards continue experimenting with Brown at the point?

In high school, Troy Brown was a point guard. At Oregon, he played on the wing, but still showed a knack for running offenses, bringing the ball up court and being a skilled pick and roll player. With that said, and with John Wall’s injury, do the Wizards want to experiment more with Brown playing the point? This will be one of the questions that the new GM will certainly have to answer.

If Brown does play more point guard, he will have to show a greater ability of running an offense at the NBA level. When he is going against an aggressive defender, he has a tendency to be quicken, looks uncomfortable, and gets forced into some bad decisions. Cleaning this up will maybe open the door for more minutes running the point.

He needs more experience

Brown at times looked very smooth on the court with his ability to get to the basket, but he also struggled finishing at the rim. He finished the season shooting 64.9 percent in the restricted area. For some context, Porter, before being traded this season, shot 69.8 percent in the restricted area, so he is well behind a player that he could presumably play a similar role as next season while also lacking Porter’s outside shooting touch.

At times, Brown lacked the strength and explosiveness to be a solid finisher. His ability to score around the basket could become a quicker development than other parts of the game. He has the skills to be greater than he has been and he will need it to be a contributor on the offensive end.

Three point shooting

What is an NBA wing player these days if he cannot consistently shoot the three? The Wizards are already short of shooters on the team. Having a player like Brown be a consistent knock down three point shooter would do wonders for the team but also Brown’s game himself.

If Brown can consistently knock down open threes and still create off the dribble, he will be another weapon who takes a lot of pressure off Bradley Beal and Wall (when he does return). At the same time without an ability to shoot, it may be challenging to put him together with another non-shooter. Wing players being able to stretch the floor are almost a necessity and his ability to become a deep threat, will ultimately determine how much Brown will play in the future.

Current Value

It is challenging to assess Brown’s value without having more meaningful minutes to observe him. Like many players, if he were on the open market, his value would largely be based on potential than actual production. Brown is a rotational wing player with the ability to play the off-guard position, small forward. He has shown flashes as a solid defender and at times he has shown good a potential to develop a consistent shot.

If Brown’s work in the second half is an indication of his future, then his best comparison right now would be Evan Turner. Turner, of course, is overpaid for his production, so in a situation where Brown is a free agent, he is a Mid-Level Exception player with the potential of playing at a level above that.