When the media is waiting for a practice or workout to finish up on the Pepsi Center’s practice court, they wait on the other side of a wall that separates the team from everyone else. While nothing that is happening on the court can be seen, on Wednesday morning there was plenty to hear.
“Get in there!”
“The next shot is falling!”
“Stay locked in!”
Those are the words of Troy Brown Jr., who has decided to leave the University of Oregon after just one year to enter the 2018 NBA Draft.
While it is not rare to hear that level of encouragement in any other gym, for Brown Jr. to be such a leader and supporter during a pre-draft workout is an incredible look into the type of man that Brown Jr. is.
Pre-draft workouts are where the most talented collegiate and international players come together to workout for individual NBA teams. It allows team executives to get an up-close look at prospects that they have identified while also being able to interview and talk with them on a one-on-one basis. Make no mistake; pre-draft workouts are meant to separate the weak from the strong.
That is what is so impressive about Brown Jr.
Not only was he being vocally supportive of each and every player taking part in the workout, but he was also helping corral rebounds for his opposition even though the Nuggets have staffed employees to do such a trivial task. When Brown Jr. was asked about why he was being so vocal during the workout, he gave such an eloquent answer that it is impossible to not see the leadership qualities that he possesses.
“I just try to come in and give guys energy,” Brown Jr. explained after his workout. “I understand that right now we are all fighting for spots and stuff like that, but there is no reason to not be encouraging guys, trying to talk to guys, help guys out, and stuff like that. That is just who I am as a person and as a teammate. That is who I always try to be. When things aren’t going your way, sometimes being vocal can get you back in the right mindset.”
Brown Jr.’s maturity and leadership qualities come from a rare combination of passion, selflessness, and an elite-level of individual awareness. There is no ego that Brown Jr. has to deal with. He does not see himself as above anyone else around him. He is not scared to get down on the floor and do the dirty work. He will do anything to help out his team
That leadership was again conveyed when Brown Jr. was asked about his thought process defensively. While most players would immediately try to talk about what makes them a solid individual defender, Brown Jr. went the opposite direction and instead spoke on the importance of team defense and communication.
“Defensively, for me, it is making sure that everybody is in order,” Brown Jr. explained to the media. “Making sure everybody knows they have back-side help and stuff like that. Making sure guys are in the right positions or helping them out by moving them to different spots.”
It is so rare to ask a 18-year-old freshman about defense and hear him talk about how he tries to keep guys in the right places, is calling out coverages, and using constant communication to keep his teammates in the correct spots on the floor. There really is no better example to prove his awareness, maturity, and altruistic mind than his mental approach to the defensive end the floor.
Thanks to that awareness and maturity, Brown Jr. has also become an offensively hyper-versatile wing who has the potential to be the next great jack-of-all-trades role player in the NBA. Even when you ask Brown Jr. about himself, he will tell you the exact same thing — that his versatility is what he brings to the table on offense.
“I’d definitely say my versatility,” Brown Jr. said when asked to describe his best quality. “I feel like there are lots of wings that are more scoring wings in this draft. I feel like, in this draft, I am one of the few players who does everything on the court and can come in and make an immediate impact no matter what the coach needs on the floor; Regardless of if it is defense, offense, passing, playmaking, rebounding and a lot of other options I bring to the court.”
Again, the awareness of understanding who he is as a player is what has separated Brown Jr. from the rest of the combo-forwards that Denver has brought in for a workout. While a lot of prospects are pressing so that they can impress as many teams as possible, Brown Jr. is just doing what he does best. That awareness will also help his transition as he steps into the professional world of the NBA.
“It is hard to find guys in the league that are 6-foot-7 and do everything on the floor — guys like Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala,” Brown Jr. said when asked about players he looks to emulate. “Those all-around guys; triple-double type players that do everything and have an immediate impact without having to have 40 points every night.”
That is what Brown Jr. wants to bring to the whatever team drafts him; complete versatility, an altruistic mind, and leadership intangibles that cannot be taught.
No one else that has come through the Nuggets’ pre-draft workout process has shined like Brown Jr., and he did so by being nothing but the pure and unadulterated version of himself.