John Wall's surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon will produce many consequences for the Wizards' franchise over the next year and perhaps well beyond, as he moves through what will be a long and arduous rehab. One person who could be affected indirectly is rookie Troy Brown Jr.
Brown, a 2018 first-round pick, has some point guard potential in his future, despite fitting the physical profile of a small forward. Both head coach Scott Brooks and team president Ernie Grunfeld have said so. A point guard growing up, Brown believes he can play the position long-term.
He is only 19, and the Wizards are taking their time developing him. But with Wall set to miss most of next season, it would help Washington if Brown was brought up to speed at point guard sooner than later.
Beyond Wall, who is on track to return in February of 2020, the Wizards have zero point guards under contract next season. They would like to re-sign Tomas Satoransky, but even if they do they would need at least one more player at the position.
If Brown is ready to be part of their point guard rotation next season, they could allocate resources elsewhere. That would be helpful with Wall due to make $37.8 million in the first year of a new contract.
"It is definitely is one of those things that you have to take recognition of," Brown said of the door opening with Wall out.
"But at the same time, it's just about me getting better and doing whatever to help this team."
"With John out, it's going to open up opportunities for a lot of guys," Brooks said. "We're going to worry about next year next year. With this year, [Brown] has to just gain experience."
Wall's injury has yet to afford Brown more playing time for the Wizards. Wall last played on Dec. 26, and since then, Brown has appeared in only 14 of their 25 games. Some of that has been due to a left ankle injury that he suffered just before the All-Star break.
But for the most part, Brown has remained on the outside of the rotation looking in, still waiting for consistent playing time. He was the 15th overall pick, yet 31 players from the 2018 draft have logged more minutes than Brown so far this season, including 18 guys who were picked after him. Nine second-round picks and six who went undrafted have played more.
At least for now, Brown's development is taking place mostly outside of NBA games. He practices with the Wizards and has also spent some time with the Capital City Go-Go, their G-League affiliate.
It's with the Go-Go that Brown may get his best chance to develop point guard skills. With Chris Chiozza having signed a 10-day contract with the Houston Rockets, and with Chasson Randle having been promoted to the Wizards, the Go-Go currently lack natural point guards. That allowed Brown to start at the one on Friday night in the Go-Go's win over the Greensboro Swarm.
So, what exactly does Brown need to add to his game to be an NBA-caliber point guard? It's partly his outside shot, which is a work in progress after he shot just 29.1 percent from three in college. It is also knowing positioning for defense and rebounds and how to set up teammates for their shots.
"You have to have the intel," Brown said.
Part of it, as Brown has learned, is adjusting how he passes to counter NBA defenders. Many of Brown's best highlights from college were his assists, but some of his go-to passes don't work in the NBA. Players are faster, longer and smarter.
"The biggest thing for me in the NBA is to stop jumping when I pass," Brown said. "That's the biggest thing because people read eyes. Now, it's more so just staying on the ground and making the simple play."
When Brown has a pass intercepted, it is usually not long after that he is taken out of the game. Turnovers now carry more weight than ever. When Brown would make a mistake in high school or even college, the leash was much longer because he was one of the best players on his team.
"It's definitely hard. I'm just trying to get used to it," Brown said. "You kind of play knowing that that's going to happen, and you're going to come out. At the same time, you've gotta have confidence in yourself to just make the right play and just play your game."
If the Wizards continue to drift back in the standings and further away from playoff contention, perhaps the door opens sooner for Brown to get some playing time. And if that happens, maybe he gets a look at point guard.
Either way, Wall's injury could speed up the timeline for Brown and alter the course of his development as an NBA player.
"[Point guard] is not a position that you can just learn it as fast as you would like, or as fast as the coaches would like," Brooks said. "It takes time. It's a very tough position to learn. We're very patient with him."
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