As the Lakers navigate their guard depth with the latest injuries to Russel Westbrook (hamstring) and Dennis Schröder (thumb), their wing rotation has taken an unexpected hit as well.
Troy Brown Jr., who was projected to play meaningful minutes at small forward after signing with the Lakers during the offseason, is reportedly “a few weeks away” from making his Lakers debut, though Mike Trudell did say that Brown was making progress.
Lonnie Walker IV looked “great” in practice after missing last game as a precaution. AD also has “no restrictions whatsoever” ahead of the opener.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 16, 2022
Troy Brown Jr. is still a few weeks away, though he’s making progress.
To recap the timeline with Brown:
- On Media Day, Rob Pelinka said Brown was dealing with a back issue and was “probably going to do non-contact drills for at least the next week or so”.
- On Oct. 9, when the Lakers were in Golden State for a preseason contest against the Warriors, Darvin Ham ruled out Brown for the season opener, which at that point was nine days away.
- Last Friday, on “Callin Shots” with Seth Partnow, Jovan Buha of The Athletic said, “Troy Brown’s out, it’s kinda continued to get pushed back. It is a little reminiscent of Kendrick Nunn last training camp. I know Laker fans don’t want to hear that, but first Nunn was supposed to be out a couple weeks, then it kept getting pushed back, and that’s already how it’s been with Troy Brown a bit.”
- And now, the latest news is that Brown’s return to the court has indeed been pushed back at least another few weeks.
The Lakers have been testing out their small lineup despite the diminished wing depth, and they’ve experienced the challenges of playing three smaller guards next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Brown was supposed to slot as a forward into those smaller lineups, not unlike Trevor Ariza a year ago, and we all saw how that turned out.
At the risk of going full doomsday by comparing Brown to a player who didn’t suit up during the entire regular season and another who was so disappointing he was cut before the end of the year, there is concern about how sustainable Davis-at-center lineups are if the Lakers can’t surround him with big guards and wings. Fortunately, Brown is much younger than Ariza, so the prospect of him hitting the ground running when he returns is much more feasible.
That’s the hope because the Lakers need Brown, and they need good injury mojo. And right now, they have neither.