Troy Brown Jr.’s first day at his new job began at 8 with a morning workout. Exactly two weeks earlier, Brown had excited the Washington Wizards during a pre-draft session, filling the practice court with his energy, on-court intelligence and innate abilities, standing out despite being the youngest player of the crop that day. On Monday, however, the court belonged solely to Brown — just him and the team’s development staff getting an early start.
The Wizards and Brown are wasting no time. His first day as the team’s newest addition displayed the overnight shift from 18-year-old draft pick to bona fide NBA player.
“The first couple of days were just surreal, to go through this experience,” Brown said during his introductory news conference. “But now, you know, we’re back in business.”
Inside a crowded lounge of Capital One Arena, members of the Brown family sat in the front row. Troy Brown Sr. tilted his head back and smiled broadly as he listened to his son recall the emotions last Thursday when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the Wizards selection of Brown as the 15th overall pick. Lynn Brown released a slight giggle when her son described draft night as the “best day of my life.” Also sitting and watching were Brown’s older sister Jada, his manager Anthony Brown (no relation), his friend and future roommate in Washington, as well as several season ticket holders and Monumental Sports & Entertainment employees.
The cadre of supporters took in Brown’s first public act as a professional. It’s expected for Brown to show teenage quirks — after team President Ernie Grunfeld introduced him, he smiled through his invisible teeth aligners and nervously uttered, “Umm, well. Hey guys.” But Brown also displayed the poise the Wizards saw in him at his June 11 workout.
While Brown understands that development will define his first season in the NBA, as he primes his 6-foot-7, 215-pound frame for the most rigorous basketball league in the world, he believes he’s ready for the challenge even at his age. At the time of the draft, Brown was 18 years, 10 months and 24 days old — the second-youngest player drafted by the franchise since 1985.
“For me, playing basketball has never been about age. It’s been about who can play and who can’t play,” said Brown, who agreed to terms of his first contract with the team before the morning workout. “Age has never really been a mind-set for me. It’s been more about playing basketball and figuring out a way to make things happen.
“I’ve never used age as an excuse,” Brown continued. “I know I’m coming into the league with a lot of grown men and stuff like that but if it was something I wasn’t ready for, then I wouldn’t have took the step to go to the NBA.”
After Brown declared for the draft, he began working with Joe Abunassar of Impact Basketball, a popular pre-draft spot for incoming NBA players. Inside a Las Vegas practice facility, Brown began shaping his slight frame, defining it with more muscles and a stronger core. Now, the early stages of his career belongs to the Wizards training and coaching staff. While speaking to reporters after the news conference, Grunfeld expressed that Brown can pack on more strength in preparation for the competition. Though the body transformation remains paramount, Brown already comes to Washington with a power-packed game.
“He’s not the only player who’s ever had to go through it. Everybody goes through the same process,” Grunfeld said. “He has an outstanding work ethic, he’s a quick learner, so we’ll see quick how he picks everything up.
“In the meantime,” Grunfeld continued, “he brings a lot of other things to the table that are very important to our team.”
During the handful of interviews Grunfeld has conducted about Brown, he has often mentioned his versatility as a wing player. On Monday, Grunfeld once again praised Brown’s best assets: his ability to move the ball, rebound and defend multiple positions, as well as his overall feel for the game.
“The natural instincts are there,” Grunfeld said of Brown. “I think this is a great situation for him because if he has the opportunity we feel like he can go in there and get minutes and help us. But we don’t need to have him come in right away and be a difference maker.”
Following the news conference, Brown beamed for photos as he and Grunfeld posed with his new white No. 6 jersey. He held the same excited expression through several television interviews and one-on-one chats with reporters. After concluding what he felt was his last interview, the room now almost completely empty, Brown stepped down from the dais and approached his family. Then, he turned around to notice that at least three more reporters were still waiting for their turn.
“Oh, my bad!” Brown said, before smiling and returning to the elevated stage.
The first day was a long one. Another workout remained on the schedule and more obligations were stacked on his plate. Brown, for his part, seemed eager to take it all on.
“Now I’m just ready to get into the process,” Brown said, “and show why I’m here.”