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Five observations from Troy Brown's first NBA training camp

Five observations from Troy Brown's first NBA training camp

Week 1 of Washington Wizards preseason training camp is in the books.

After a few months off, the players returned to D.C. and we're joined by several new teammates. Some through trade,  others through free agency and one from the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft.

After keeping a close eye on the team's first-round draft pick Troy Brown Jr. all week, here are five key observations to consider regarding the rookie:

  • The 19-year-old doesn't seem to be phased by life in the NBA thus far.

Brown's confidence, although concealed, is through the roof.

Brown was a 2017 McDonald's All-American and went on to average 11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game in his lone season at Oregon.

He believes he can do it at any level and has enough humility to continue to learn along the way.

  • His Vegas Summer League performance set the bar high and earned the respect of John Wall

It's no secret that the Wizards enter the 2018-19 season with the most roster depth, at least on paper, that the team has ever had during the John Wall era.

If newcomers Dwight Howard, Austin Rivers, and Jeff Green are able to stay healthy, they will bring toughness and a boatload of experience to a relatively youthful team. 

Brown's performance during summer league play was solid. He averaged 18.4 points and 6.8 rebounds in five games played. His point guard took notice.

"I think he's just a mature player for his age," Wall said Monday. "It's kind of hard to find guys 18, 19 years old who are very poised and mature coming into this league...He's going to be a great piece for us."

Wall doesn't typically sugarcoat things. Brown should take his glowing comments and run with them.

  • Brown's underdog mentality could very well be THE motivating factor in his pursuit of playing time.

He has a mild-mannered, gentle demeanor about him.

He's not flashy, but does have a certain swagger. Growing up playing prep basketball in Las Vegas, Brown often felt overlooked as a player. That feeling continued as he ventured up to Oregon for a year.

"In Vegas, there wasn't a lot of publicity and stuff like that, a lot of people didn't know me," Brown said at the podium during Monday's media day. "Even going to Oregon, it wasn't a big basketball school. That's just how it's been all my career. But I felt I've always done the things necessary to get to where I am today."

Perhaps the quiet chip on his shoulder is exactly what he needs to work through his rookie year.

  • It may take time for his body to acclimate to the pace and grind of NBA-level hoops.

The 6-foot-7 teenager is still growing into his own body. After each practice this week, Brown received NormaTec therapy treatment to help with recovery.

He will have to take care of his body more than ever before if he wants to be in line for the league's grueling 82-game regular season.

  • Coach Scott Brooks' specialty is player development which bodes well with who Brown is as a player and person.

Brown was consistent all week emphasizing his team-first mindset to the media.

With Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre having already established small forward roles, game minutes could be hard to come by for Brown this season. They probably will come in small doses, much like they did for Oubre right out of the gate.

With Brown's work ethic and team attitude that has his coach taking notice, expect the rookie to be prepared for when his number is called this season.


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Now that the Lakers got Anthony Davis, could the Knicks and others turn to Bradley Beal?

Now that the Lakers got Anthony Davis, could the Knicks and others turn to Bradley Beal?

With all but one of the brick-and-mortar movie stores closed down, there are really only two instances that you hear the word 'blockbuster' these days: when describing Marvel movies and for the type of trade we saw this weekend between the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers.

The Anthony Davis deal is a blockbuster trade in every sense. It is big in the number of pieces involved and because Davis is one of the best players on the planet.

It is important because it could immediately vault the Lakers into title contention. And it provides a new superteam for the league to revolve around and for people to loathe with the Golden State Warriors currently licking their wounds.

But it is also the type of deal that will have major consequences around the league, one that will affect far more than just the teams at the top. It will force a collection of other teams to redraw their blueprints.

The obvious ones are the Knicks and Celtics, the two teams most closely linked to Davis in trade rumors. Now, it is New York that has more urgency, if not desperation, to strike in free agency. Boston to regroup and will probably need to ponder other trades if they want to reassert themselves in the Eastern Conference.

The Davis trade would be a major deal no matter the year, but it is fascinating to evaluate in the context of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson's injuries. The league went from being very predictable to a wide open pasture of possibilities.

Now, the Warriors are good still but are also a beatable team. A window of NBA parity is cracking open and surely the Lakers won't be the only team to pounce.

Houston, Philadelphia and Oklahoma City are always aggressive and will clearly be thinking big. Portland and Denver could see this as the year to go all-in.

Not all teams looking to make a splash will have money to spend in free agency. That points to an aggressive trade market this summer, but there is arguably one big problem. After Davis, it doesn't seem likely many other stars will be available.

Teams seeking stars via trade have enjoyed plenty of options in recent years between Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, Paul George and Jimmy Butler. The formula is generally fairly simple: an All-Star player on an underachieving team with the end of his contract in sight. Recently, the supply has met the demand.

But currently, few fit that description. There are some like Mike Conley Jr. of the Grizzlies, and Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside of the Heat. But none of those players are All-Stars in their prime.

All of that makes it easy to connect the dots to the Wizards and Bradley Beal. They are in an interesting spot, needing to decide whether to retool for playoff contention or take the long view and undergo some degree of a rebuild.

Beal, as their best player, is the catalyst. There are logical reasons to keep him or to trade him. He is one of the best players in franchise history, is only 25 and he's on a team-friendly contract in the era of the supermax. But the Wizards are going to have a tough time improving their roster with John Wall's Achilles injury and contract, which starts at 35 percent of the salary cap. 

The Wizards have held a stance of not wanting to trade Beal and still do. They also likely wouldn't make such an important decision without a long-term team president in place.

But that won't stop teams from calling and there is already speculation around the league about whether Beal will be dealt. One front office executive told NBC Sports Washington that Beal could be the top prize in the trade market if made available now that Davis is gone. 

For a lot of these situations, trades are more likely when a player is entering his walk year. Beal is signed through the 2020-21 season and, even if he grows unhappy, will say the right things.

He won't create necessary drama. And, if you take him at his word in a February interview with NBC Sports Washington, he wouldn't request a trade himself.

Also, there is a reason to believe keeping Beal wouldn't hurt their ability to rebuild through the draft. With the new lottery system, bottoming out doesn't offer the guarantees that it used to. And even with Beal playing all 82 games last season, the Wizards still lost 50 of them and finished with the sixth-best odds.

Just like some have argued the Wizards have reasons to trade Beal, they also have reasons not to. But that won't stop other teams from picking up the phone.




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Wizards bringing in UNC teammates Coby White and Nassir Little for pre-draft workout

Wizards bringing in UNC teammates Coby White and Nassir Little for pre-draft workout

The Wizards are holding their highest-profile pre-draft workout yet on Monday, hosting UNC teammates and projected lottery picks Coby White and Nassir Little. 

White earned All-ACC and All-Freshman honors during his lone season in Chapel Hill, averaging 16.1 points and 4.1 assists per game. Little's season with the Tar Heels did not go as smoothly as White's, but he is an NBA-ready athlete with tons of upside. 

Both White and Little could be options for the Wizards at No. 9 and would provide solutions to some of Washington's major needs. White would give the Wizards a primary play-maker while John Wall recovers from his Achilles injury, while Little would fill Washington's hole at small forward and bring some much-needed defense and rebounding to the team.

Before White and Little, the Wizards had brought in very few projected lottery picks during their pre-draft process, outside of Kentucky forward Keldon Johnson and French prospect Sekou Doumbouya. But with the 2019 NBA Draft looming on Thursday, the Wizards are ramping up their search for the player they'll pick at No. 9.