The Washington Wizards were without John Wall, Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans in the Orlando “bubble” — so they showcased Troy Brown Jr., the 15th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Brown performed at a high level, averaging more than 15 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. At 21-years-old, Brown looked like a player capable of contributing alongside the aforementioned veterans — a player the Wizards could develop into a consistent part of the rotation, and possibly, one day, earn a role as a full-time starter.
Now, the Wizards are reportedly showcasing Brown for a different reason.
Sources: The Washington Wizards have made third-year SF Troy Brown Jr. extremely available in trade talks ahead of the March 25 deadline.— Quinton Mayo (@RealQuintonMayo) March 11, 2021
“They’re showcasing him,” one source added.
According to Wizards reporter Quinton Mayo, the Wizards are making Brown available in trade talks.
So, what exactly went wrong?
Washington never really had a defined role for Brown — a pass-first guard who they have refused to play at point guard, a similar issue they faced with former Wizards guard Tomas Satoransky. Despite a promising stretch in the bubble, Brown didn’t crack this year’s rotation and has largely been subject to DNP-CD.
Brown has played just 244 minutes this season, and the Wizards have used his talents sparingly — and at point guard, essentially never. Ish Smith was the team’s primary backup point guard before suffering a quad injury, and the role has been filled by Raul Neto ever since.
However, on March 10 against the Memphis Grizzlies, Brown finally had a chance to play, scoring 5 points with 3 assists and 2 blocks in 13 minutes.
In just those minutes, Brown, again, showed that he can contribute if given the chance.
For a team desperately in need of playmaking and defense, Brown can do both. Yet, the Wizards appear to be punting on his development without justification, particularly because the Wizards don’t employ a veteran wing.
Mayo’s report is, at best, concerning.
At 14-21, the Wizards are in no position to compete for a championship. The sole purpose of this season (and really, seasons beyond this one) should be the development of Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura, Brown and future picks.
But, the Wizards seem to be shifting gears — going all in on a possible playoff spot, despite showing no signs of being consistently competitive to warrant such a deviation from what should have been the team’s goal.
Even more concerning is the timing of Mayo’s report.
Brown’s trade value was highest immediately after the bubble. The modern NBA is dominated by tall, playmaking guards — and at the very least, Brown seemed like he could help as a backup. Statistics aside, Brown’s game pops — he makes the flashy no-look passes, he get in the lane for steals, he dives for loose balls, he plays with steady pace.
He makes winning plays.
The eye-test says that a team focused on player development would be excited about Brown’s future — yet the Wizards, per Mayo’s report, are ready to give up on him. And they’re reportedly ready to give up on him only after his value plummeted — when they likely can’t get much of a return for him, unlike immediately after the bubble.
Washington’s handling of Brown’s development has been less than ideal. To quit on a 21-year-old player with his skill-level raises legitimate concerns — not only about Brown’s future in Washington, but about the team’s ability to develop players in general.
If the Wizards are ready to give up on Brown after just a few seasons — then how can the team confidently suggest that they’re committed to developing Avdija and Hachimura?
Because, not long ago, Brown was in their shoes.