He was overlooked upon his arrival to the Chicago Bulls, but Troy Brown Jr. is making his presence known just five games into his tenure in the Windy City.
The 21-year old wing, removed from his first NBA home with the Washington Wizards, brings defensive acumen and versatility, arguably what this team needs most ahead of their push for playoffs.
He’s averaging just 5.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, and an assist per game, but has managed a positive net rating (+24) over his 90-plus minutes played with the Bulls since arriving at the trade deadline.
It didn’t take long for Brown to find a spot in head coach Billy Donovan’s rotation.
Now, he’s just got to maintain it.
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A Defined Role
Brown’s time with the Washington Wizards was like a roller coaster, due to the ever-changing nature of the team. He went from starter, to bench player, back to starter, to out of the rotation.
That typically doesn’t bode well for player/talent development, so it’s no surprise that his tenure there ended prematurely. Brown’s minutes averages essentially tell the whole story:
- 2018-2019: 14 minutes per game, 10 starts.
- 2019-2020: 25.8 minutes per game, 22 starts.
- 2020-2021: 13.7 minutes per game, zero starts.
So, the Wizards sent him to Chicago, and he immediately saw a difference. Brown told reporters (via NBC Sports) that his new head coach was very direct in discussing his role in Chicago:
The hardest thing in Washington (with the Wizards) was I didn’t know what would get me on the court. Like if I scored, if I assisted, if I played defense, it was hard for me to figure it out. First day I got here I talked to Coach Donovan and he told me, ‘Hey I need defense right now.’
Defense has long been the 21-year old’s calling card.
He told reporters he takes pride in his efforts on that end:
Defense is more of a pride thing and more of an effort, and so right now that’s all I’ve been focused on. Just trying to come in and just bring that energy and bring that grit.
Before he was drafted in 2018, Brown compared himself to 2015 Finals MVP and future Hall-of-Famer Andre Iguodala. He’s not there quite yet, but he’s shown some of that versatility already in Chicago.
Brown Speaks on Chicago’s New All-Star
The Bulls are 2-4 since the trade deadline, but are coming off of back-to-back wins. It’s been a process, fitting in Nikola Vucevic next to the rest of the starting five.
There aren’t a lot of shots to go around, which for Brown, isn’t a problem by any means. He’s more than comfortable sticking to his role on the defensive end, and helping his teammates into their shots:
I don’t have to take a lot of shots or do a lot of things on the court, I’m going to just naturally do that because of my versatility. We have guys that can score the basketball at a very high rate. So like I said my job right now is to just bring energy and play defense.
Regarding Vucevic, Troy had nothing but praise for the All-Star when speaking to reporters (via The Athletic) after Tuesday night’s win over the Indiana Pacers:
He’s so talented. To be able to stretch the floor the way he does and then still be able to have that frame to be able to get in the low post and go crazy down there. He definitely does a great job of balancing the game. He’s very smart with the way he plays. Everything is very direct.
Brown didn’t play much next to the Bulls’ new All-Star big man, with Donovan only finding 15 minutes of play time for him in Tuesday’s win. But he still finished the game with both a steal and a block.
As do most, Brown is enjoying getting to watch LaVine and Vucevic grow as a duo:
It’s really dope to see two All-Stars out there play their game and watching their counters and their progressions and how they play together. That pick-and-roll with Zach and Vooch is hard to stop.
So are the Chicago Bulls, at least, recently.