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Troy Brown Jr. reflects on his first season with the Wizards

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Troy Brown Jr. reflects on his first season with the Wizards

CHICAGO -- Troy Brown Jr. arrived at the 2018 NBA Combine a tad overwhelmed. That was certainly an understandable feeling considering the stakes. His draft stock would rise or fall based on his work on the court and during interviews with teams. 

“I wouldn’t say I was lost, but I didn’t know what to expect,” Brown said. “I was just kind of going about things, trying to do everything the best I could. …I knew I was going to get drafted, but it was more about the work that I put in. Is it going to happen? I want to go this number (in the draft). There’s a lot of stuff running through your brain.”

One year later, the Washington Wizards’ 19-year-old swingman returned wiser and calmer. There was no need to impress scouts or front executives this time. The one only skill set required, penmanship.

While the class of 2019 went under the pre-draft microscope, the 15th overall selection in the 2018 draft focused on inking his name to dozens of trading cards.

“It’s surreal, getting paid for your presence,” Brown told NBC Sports Washington. “People flying you out just to sign (trading) cards. You get paid for being here and for whatever you sign. It’s definitely fun. Never in a million years did I think I’d be getting paid to show up. It’s fun, especially at a young age.”

One year prior the Las Vegas native and University of Oregon product had no clue he would begin his NBA career on the East Coast or sign a contract with the Wizards. Brown did not even meet with Washington at his Combine. 

The two sides would connect swimmingly the following month during Brown’s workout at Capital One Arena that also featured the player eventually selected 16th, Zhaire Smith.

“All I remember is going in (to Washington), and I killed my workout against some of the top guys,” Brown said. “My interview when I was leaving was really good. I really hit it off with them.”

Perhaps the wildest difference from a year prior, beyond the experienced gained from an NBA season and another trip around the sun is Brown’s status with the Wizards. 

Immediate expectations for his rookie season were not lofty mainly because of the veteran pieces already on the roster. Now ahead of the 2019 draft, Brown is the second-most-interesting healthy player behind Bradley Beal in terms of the long haul despite a limited role for the 32-50 Wizards. 

No disrespect to the 6-foot-6 Brown, but that interesting claim is mostly a function of expected player turnover. More than half of last season’s final roster is entering some form of free agency.

“It’s definitely weird not knowing who is going to be back and knowing our whole roster (might) be different,” said Brown, who averaged 4.8 points and 14 minutes in 54 games last season. 

Granted, the Wizards spent nearly all of the 2018-19 campaign flipping the roster via trades and numerous signings.

“At the same time, you know it’s a business,” Brown continued. “I’m kind of use to it now. I had 24 teammates in one year.”

Current teammates on guaranteed contracts for next season include Beal, John Wall, Ian Mahinmi and Dwight Howard. Of that group, Brown is perhaps the best bet to play next season in Washington. 

Beal, coming off a near All-NBA season, is the subject of trade rumors with two years remaining on his contract. Wall might miss the entire season following February’s Achilles injury. 

Using the stretch provision on Howard’s $5.5 million salary would remove the center from the roster one year after injuries limited him to nine games. Mahinmi’s expiring contract perhaps offers value in a trade as a matching salary. 

Who knows what to expect for an organization that has yet to replace Ernie Grunfeld even though the long-time President of Basketball Operations was fired more than two months ago. 

The Wizards currently own the ninth selection in the 2019 Draft. There’s a belief Washington’s draft plans include buying into the second round. Free agency comes around ten days later. Maybe the Wizards keep free agents like Tomas Satoransky, Thomas Bryant and Jeff Green. Regardless, new guys are showing up.

Brown’s role remains uncertain coach Scott Brooks’ watch. Certainly do not write predictions in pen seeing as Brown rarely received meaningful action during the season, though he averaged 10.4 points in 30 minutes over the final ten games once the Wizards fell out of the playoff race.

Regardless, Brown recognized his growth over the last year after checking out prospects set to join him the pro ranks.

“Now with that experience under my belt with that one year, I know what to expect, what I’m capable of and the position I’m in,” Brown said. “It’s definitely a good feeling to come back and see guys I played against a year ago now going through the Combine.”

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Middleton outduels Beal as Bucks bury Wizards

Middleton outduels Beal as Bucks bury Wizards

The Washington Wizards lost to the Milwaukee Bucks 151-131 on the road on Tuesday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. The Milwaukee Bucks may appear from afar like a one-man show; Giannis Antetokounmpo and a supporting cast of good, but nowhere near great players. On Tuesday night, the Wizards got to see the Bucks without their MVP, as he sat with a shoulder injury. Turns out they are still very, very good.

Milwaukee led by as many as 32 points and won by 20 as they demolished the Wizards for much of the night with the exception of some isolated second-half runs.The Wizards would end up cutting the lead to seven midway through the third quarter, but overall they were no match for the league's best team.

The Wizards fell to 15-31 on the season, while the Bucks improved to 41-6. That puts them on pace for 72 wins, which would tie the 1995-96 Bulls for the second-best regular season record of all-time.

2. We know the Wizards aren't a good defensive team. In fact, they might be the worst defense in today's game and are arguably one of the worst in league history.

But it was still shocking to see what the Bucks did to them in the first half of this game. Milwaukee made history in several ways by scoring 88 points by the break.

Those 88 points were the most ever allowed by a Wizards/Bullets team in any half. They were the seventh-most scored in a first half in NBA history. And they were the 20th-most scored by any team in any half.

The Bucks actually broke their own record against the Wizards. Last February, they scored 85 points in the first half against Washington, which at the time was the most ever scored against the franchise in a first half. At least that time they had Antetokounmpo.

This, by the way, was the sixth time this season the Wizards have allowed 140 points or more. That is the most 140-point games allowed by a team in a single season since the 1990-91 Nuggets. 

That Denver team had 24 such games, so well ahead of the Wizards' pace. But this is only Game 46 of 82 for Washington, so don't sell them short.

3. The reason why the Bucks were able do that without Antetokounmpo was because their second- and third-best players, Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe, stepped up and played like All-Stars. Middleton may very well be in the annual showcase next month.

Middleton had a career-high 51 points, 28 of which came in the first half. He went 7-for-10 from three.

Bledsoe added 32 points, including 22 in the first half. He was 11-for-20 from the field. He also had 10 assists and six rebounds, as he bullied the Wizards - even their big men - on the boards.

4. The Wizards were able to stick around and make it interesting because Bradley Beal also put in an All-Star performance. He dropped a season-high 47 points with six assists in 38 minutes.

It was Beal's sixth 40-point game of the season. Only James Harden (16) and Trae Young (8) have more. Beal now has 18 career 40-point games, third in franchise history behind Gilbert Arenas (28) and Walt Bellamy (23). 

5. It wasn't of the Antetokounmpo caliber, but there was a pregame injury update for the Wizards that is worth noting. Backup guard Jordan McRae wasn't able to go due to a sprained right ankle.

McRae rolled his ankle on Sunday against the Hawks and it is apparently more serious than his previous ankle injury, the one to his left ankle, that he suffered on Jan. 17 against the Raptors. That one appeared to be very severe at the time, yet he was able to play in their next game.

It is unclear how long McRae will be out, but the Wizards are expected to get rookie Rui Hachimura back, perhaps within the next week.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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Wizards fail to contain Khris Middleton and fall to league-leading Bucks by 20

Wizards fail to contain Khris Middleton and fall to league-leading Bucks by 20

The Bucks didn't have Giannis Antetokounmpo, but it didn't really matter in the end as the Bucks downed the Wizards 151-131 Tuesday night in Milwaukee. 

The Wizards trailed by as many as 32 in this one, and were down 25 at the half, but as we've learned with this team, they never truly go away. And they always give us a few moments worth watching again. 

Here are some of the best moments from Washington's loss at Fiserv Forum. 

Kobe Bryant tribute

Tuesday was the Bucks' first game since Kobe Bryant passed away Sunday in a helicopter crash so after they won the tip, they took a 24-second violation to honor the late NBA legend.

The Wizards already participated in a similar tribute against the Hawks but took an eight-second violation on the following play regardless. 

The entire sports world was gutted by Bryant's tragic death, and as we continue to see tributes dedicated to him every day, it shows just how far his reach was as a global icon. 

Beal posterizes Lopez

As we stated before, the Wizards were down by as many as 32 points and faced a 25-point halftime deficit. They were able to get things close at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, and much of the credit should go to Beal's loud poster dunk over Brook Lopez. 

Beal was so pumped up after this slam that he got a technical foul for taunting Lopez after the play. Beal secured a career-high sixth 40-point game of the year and went shot-for-shot with Khris Middleton throughout the second half. 

Middleton just couldn't miss. At all. 

Thomas Bryant draws the Wizards close

There was a time that the Wizards nearly clawed their way into a one-possession game with the NBA's best team. Thanks to Beal's heroics of course, but also Thomas Bryant's finishing inside. 

Bryant had a double-double in the game in what was his best game since coming back from injury. 

Interestingly enough, he played his best at the center spot and not power forward. Scott Brooks has been starting Bryant next to Ian Mahinmi and it's resulted in clunky offense and embarrassingly bad defense for the Wizards. 

After this game, Brooks may want to think about changing up the starting five. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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