New Bulls addition Troy Brown Jr. hoping for a new lease on his career
Brown thought he made a statement last season with the Wizards, but the drafting of Deni Avdija suddenly made him expendable. Now Brown hopes he can get his career back on the trajectory it seemed to be heading.
Forward Troy Brown Jr. still isn’t sure why things went off the tracks for him so quickly with the Wizards.
Brown, the 15th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, went from going through the normal growing pains as a rookie to being a legitimate second-year player who seemed to have found a foothold.
Jumping from 4.8 points a game in Year 1 to 10.4 in Year 2 seemed to be a solid climb. Until it wasn’t.
The Wizards selected forward Deni Avdija with the ninth overall pick in the 2020 draft. Just like that, Brown saw he was being pushed out of playing time and, on many nights, the rotation.
‘‘It was kind of hard just getting adjusted to things,’’ said Brown, whom the Bulls acquired in a three-team deal at the trade deadline last week. ‘‘Coming off of the bubble [at the end of last season], [the Wizards] kind of told me I was going to be playing backup point guard. Then coming into the season, I kind of was playing [power forward]. Then after that, I kind of went to the bench.
‘‘So it was one of those things where it was definitely hard, but . . . my goal was just to continue getting better and just try to talk to Deni and try to give him some of the information I wish would have known when I was a rookie.’’
The Bulls’ hope is that the Wizards’ loss will be their gain.
Will the deal put Brown’s career back on track? Maybe, but Brown wasn’t looking that far ahead.
‘‘I just talked to coach [Billy Donovan], and he [said]: ‘Right now, we need defense. We just need a defensive presence,’ ’’ Brown said.
Brown checked that box in his debut Saturday against the Spurs, playing solid defense in his 14 minutes, but he also had eight points and three assists. How Donovan uses him in the long term, however, remains to be seen.
‘‘It’s hard because he wasn’t like I would consider a rotation player,’’ Donovan said of Brown’s debut. ‘‘We got down by a large margin. I put [Brown] and [newly acquired guard] Javonte [Green] in there to give them some minutes to see what they would look like. So we’ll see going forward.’’
Brown hopes that’s the case. He thinks he can be a difference-maker if given the opportunity.
‘‘With my length and size and being able to guard [from point guard to small forward] and being able to absorb [power forward] a little bit, I feel like it definitely helps,’’ Brown said. ‘‘I feel like it’s just about energy and effort and making sure I bring that mentality every game, and I think everything else will handle itself just based on knowing coverages and me being active and being on the floor.’’
Return to normal?
The NBA announced the draft will be held July 29, with the lottery coming June 22 and the combine taking place June 21-27.
Before the coronavirus turned the sports world upside down, the draft used to take place in late June.
Still, this will allow the league to get back to a normal schedule for the fall, which means training camp can begin in late September and the regular season in mid-October.