WASHINGTON -- The Wizards may not be winning games and, with all of their injuries, some nights can barely put together NBA-level rotations. But that predicament has created opportunities for a host of players and not only the ones whose jobs were created by the injuries on the edge of the roster.
All the missing players have left second-year forward Troy Brown Jr. with more minutes to play than ever before. He logged a season-high 38 minutes against the Knicks on Saturday and has already played 25 minutes or more this season 12 times after doing so only 10 times as a rookie.
Head coach Scott Brooks has incentive to play Brown more this year to help his development as a young player. But also right now he has no choice and it's allowing Brown to play through his mistakes without looking over his shoulder.
Last year, with the team holding playoff expectations, Brooks was quick to pull Brown from the rotation after missteps. This year, however, he can struggle like he did on Saturday with nine points on 4-of-18 shooting, including 0-for-5 from three, and know his job is safe.
"It's great for me just to be able to learn and to be blessed to be in the position to take 18 shots. A lot of guys that are second-year dudes aren't getting that opportunity," Brown said.
Brown feels the patience from the coaching staff has helped ease his mind. It was just two games before his off-night against the Knicks that he scored a career-high 26 points with nine rebounds, seven assists and zero turnovers, also against New York.
Brown addressed the media after Wizards practice on Sunday, the day after he shot 4-for-18, and explained why he feels different after those types of games this time around.
"I feel like last year, if I had done that, I would have come in here down and I wouldn't be as on to the next one as I am right now. I feel like I'm growing and maturing," he said.
Brooks said he was fine with the shots Brown missed against the Knicks on Saturday. Many of them were midrange pull-ups, which Brooks calls Brown's "bread-and-butter."
And Brooks also praised Brown's attitude the following day, saying it was a good sign he didn't come in trying to work "twice as hard." He took the same approach, doing the necessary work without overdoing anything out of frustration.
Brown's approach is leading to more regularity in his production. Over his last eight games, he is averaging 14.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 45.4 percent. His three-point shooting numbers have fluctuated, but before his 0-for-5 game against the Knicks he had been 7-for-18 (40 percent) from long range in his previous six games.
Given Brown was the 15th overall pick just 18 months ago, him taking a step forward is one of the Wizards' most important initiatives this season. He has been given the opportunity to shine with more minutes and more shots. The rest is up to him.
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