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Saturday, October 23, 2021

It’s Time For The Washington Wizards To Unleash Or Trade Troy Brown Jr.

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15.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Those are good numbers for anyone, but when they come from a player just days removed from his 21st birthday, eyes begin to pop.

Those were the averages that Troy Brown Jr posted during the NBA bubble in Florida near the end of last season. While some might point to the 37.9% shooting, let me remind you that the Wizards were without Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans. This was also months prior to the trade of Russell Westbrook or the drafting of Deni Avdija.

In short, Brown Jr had very little to work with, meaning his level of responsibility increased. Most 21-year-olds would scale back, but Brown Jr attacked it head-on. His heavy on-ball usage led to just 1.8 turnovers over those eight games, a sign of control and court vision.

Even before the bubble, Brown Jr was beginning to show signs.

He had raised his free throw efficiency by 10 percentage points and had increased his three-point efficiency while also doubling the volume. His ballhandling and rebounding, while already good in college during his lone year at Oregon which led to him getting selected 15th in the 2018 NBA Draft, began translating to the NBA level.

By that logic, surely Brown Jr was meant to play a significant role for this year’s Wizards, right?

His current 13.6 minutes load would insinuate otherwise. Brown has played a total of five minutes and 39 seconds over his past two games.

Whatever the reason might be, head coach Scott Brooks surely isn’t doing his player any favors by not giving him enough burn to find a rhythm and thus recapture the magic he found in Orlando.

It’d be one thing if Brown Jr hadn’t already displayed a proper ability to play in this league and at a fairly advanced level considering his age. But given his production of last year, what are the benefits to sitting him?

It seems counterproductive to sit a young guy of Brown Jr’s caliber in this manner, however you slice it. And the Wizards tried to slice it in their favor, by arguing their young players were no longer guaranteed minutes due to heightened expectations, according to NBC Sports.

The Wizards are 12th in the Eastern Conference. Thomas Bryant is lost for the season due to an unfortunate ACL tear, and Ish Smith is out injured for the next 4-6 weeks. Yet, Brooks can’t move pieces around to create more minutes for Brown Jr because of.. heightened expectations?

The trade for Westbrook, which was always a bit funky given his personal shortcomings in terms of how to fit a modern-day roster, accelerated Washington’s need to win. They want to satisfy Beal, which makes sense, but you have to wonder how Beal would look at the situation, if the Wizards effectively kill the trade value of Brown Jr, and decide to not keep him around. That would, for them, be a wasted pick and a wasted opportunity, further underlining the type of issues the Wizards have had in building a competitive team around the star.

If Washington doesn’t want Brown Jr on the roster, then it’s in their best interest to play him now and rehab his trade value back to the point where it used to be, so you can get something for him near the March 25th trade deadline.

If they want to keep him around for the long-term, playing him and giving him a chance to get his groove back would be beneficial to both parties.

At 6’7, 220 lbs, Brown Jr is a ballhandling wing, who can play multiple positions. Numerous teams should be interested in acquiring his services.

The Chicago Bulls, who are currently playing without Otto Porter and Lauri Markkanen, both of whom could be on new teams either after the trade deadline or by next season, would make a lot of sense as a landing spot. Not only are they currently playing rookie Patrick Williams alongside Wendell Carter Jr up-front, but they’re starting Coby White at point guard, who is struggling with the position.

Acquiring Brown Jr, who could slide right in at the wing, and who can assist White by being a playmaker, would fill not only an immediate need but a long-term one as well.

The Boston Celtics could use a chunk of their TPE and attach a protected pick to get him onto their team, where he would fit the roster from an age perspective and could play the role of the third wing, previously occupied by Gordon Hayward before he left for Charlotte.

Brown Jr is the type of archetype you make a priority to develop, even if that means reserving minutes in your rotation. In a league where wing versatility and playmaking have become so valuable, wasting a player who has those capabilities by sitting him makes very little sense.

For the Wizards, it’s time to make a decision. Brown Jr is in his third year and is closing in on a new deal. Leaving essential data at the doorway, by not playing him in one of the most crucial developmental years for young players, does not seem thought through.

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