Did Troy Brown Jr. do enough against the Heat to earn more playing time?

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Chase Hughes
·3 min read
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Did Troy Brown Jr. do enough vs. Heat to earn more playing time? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Troy Brown Jr.'s first opportunity for playing time in nearly a month only came because the Wizards were missing two point guards: starter Russell Westbrook and their No. 3 at the position, Raul Neto. Brown missed weeks as one of the team's final players to return from Covid-19 protocol. But unlike many of his teammates, he wasn't placed in the rotation right away.

Still, Brown was able to make an impact on Wednesday night in the Wizards' win over the Heat. He had nine points, seven rebounds and a block in 21 minutes. Brown shot 2-for-4 from three.

Brown's first shot attempt was a made 30-foot three-pointer from the wing. That was an early indication he was prepared for the rare chance to contribute.

"He was ready to go tonight. He handled tonight well," guard Bradley Beal said. "That’s the sign of a true pro, getting ready to go when you’re needed. Troy has great size, so we need him every single game. That was great seeing Coach [Scott Brooks] trust him and he got some minutes tonight."

Brooks has been the decision-maker behind the rotation which has left Brown on the outside looking in. The 15th overall pick in 2018, Brown has played in just eight of the 14 games he's been available for this season.

That is despite the fact the Wizards picked up the fourth year option in his rookie scale contract in the offseason. Brown is set to stick around next season, but his development is currently not on a consistent trajectory.

And now that Westbrook is expected to return on Friday night, with Neto not all that far behind as he deals with a groin injury, it's unclear whether Brown can find a more regular role. It may require Brooks to find him minutes at other positions, given the team's point guard depth chart, which also includes Ish Smith.

"I thought he played with some urgency and poise. I like that. We’re going to need that," Brooks said. "I’m happy for him. He stayed with it."

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The style of play the Wizards employed on Wednesday, if replicated, could help Brown's chances of factoring in. With Westbrook out, they played a slower pace than they usually do with seven fewer possessions than they were averaging entering the game. They used a zone defense, which helps Brown make an impact because it favors length over lateral quickness. In the half-court offense, his ability to pass over defenders and willingness to move the ball seemed to help.

Brown didn't play a perfect game, of course. He had some mistakes, like leaving Duncan Robinson open for a corner three and getting his pocket picked by Avery Bradley.

After the turnover, Westbrook pulled Brown aside to tell him what he did wrong. It was a learning moment for a guy who, let's not forget, is only 21. He's the third-youngest player on the Wizards' roster behind only Deni Avdija and Isaac Bonga.

All in all, though, Brown helped on Wednesday. Whether he will get a chance to help more moving forward, that's up to Brooks.

Tune in to NBC Sports Washington at 7 p.m. Friday night for full coverage of the Wizards' next game against the Miami Heat.