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Troy Brown Jr. could see G League time as rookie works at cracking Wizards’ rotation

November 15, 2018

Consider the two rookies who played in Wednesday’s game between the Washington Wizards and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

On one side, there was Cleveland guard Collin Sexton, who scored a career-high 24 points to lead all scorers. The first-round pick, who starred at Alabama last year, shot 9-for-16 from the field with two 3-pointers.

On the other side, there was Washington’s Troy Brown Jr., who entered the game with fellow reserves Thomas Bryant and Jason Smith with four minutes to play, long after the Wizards had the game in hand. At least one Wizards fan at Capital One Arena could be heard yelling, “Put the rookie in!” as early as the first quarter.

It’s because Brown has yet to crack the Wizards’ rotation, and Wednesday was just his sixth appearance in a game this season for a total of 30 minutes. That is the fewest minutes of the top 22 picks in the 2018 NBA Draft so far, according to NBC Sports Washington.

Sexton was the No. 8 pick in the draft, and Brown was 15th, the highest non-lottery selection. Talent-wise, there shouldn’t be a big gap there, and perhaps there isn’t.

But earlier in the day Wednesday, the Wizards asked Brown and Bryant to get in some extra practice time with the G League affiliate Capital City Go-Go. Before the Wizards’ game, coach Scott Brooks made clear that Brown could be a candidate to play games in the development league.

“If their schedule was a little different, Troy would probably play a couple of games this week if it was home, or this weekend,” Brooks said. “Especially if (the Wizards are) here. I would have loved to go to a couple of games. I went to the game Sunday. I wish they would have had (more), while we’re here for 12 days, I wish they’d be able to have two or three games so that they can play and we can all see them.”

As it happens, the Go-Go don’t have a home game until Nov. 23 the same day the Wizards play on the road at Toronto after the end of their current five-game home stand.

The G League might be associated with a lower quality of basketball, but it doesn’t mean anything negative for Brown’s standing with the team. First of all, the small forward has made the most of his opportunities on the floor he’s scored 18 points in his 30 NBA minutes and shot 46.2 percent from the field. In Wednesday’s appearance, he sank a mid-range jumper and dished two assists in his limited action.

Secondly, development is what the G League is there for. The Wizards only had their standard shoot-around prior to Wednesday’s practice, but Brooks said he considered that a “waste” for a prospect like Brown. Therefore, he arranged for Brown to get in a full practice with the Go-Go.

Not all NBA prospects develop on the same arc. For example, Sexton can lead the Cavaliers in scoring on a given night partly because they don’t have much else going for them this season. The Cavaliers need him to play. But the Wizards don’t have to and won’t rush Brown into the lineup.

“Right now we have Otto (Porter), trying to get Otto more minutes,” Brooks said. “We got Kelly (Oubre), trying to get him more minutes. We’re trying to get Tomas (Satoransky) Tomas hasn’t played what he thought he deserves. Austin (Rivers) could get more minutes. I haven’t even played Jeff Green up to 30.”

For his part, Brown is taking everything in stride.

“Just trying to get used to everything,” he told The Washington Times after the game. “Just showing I’m doing everything I need to do and a little bit more” which to him, has meant arriving at the gym earlier, always doing his post-practice workouts and “always staying ready for my opportunity.”

Brown might be the Wizards’ first big test case of how to properly utilize their new G League team, but the rookie declined to speculate.

“That’s none of my business, honestly,” Brown said. “Whatever they feel is best, I’m gonna go with it, so if that’s what they need me to do.”

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