Kwame Brown is all grown up. No, that doesn't mean he's become a star, justifying the Wizards' decision to pick him No. 1 in 2001. And no, it doesn't mean he's become a mature 21-year-old. (After all, in August he was charged with drunken driving in Brunswick, Ga.; a court date has not been set.) What it does mean is that the team pulled out a tape measure at the start of training camp and discovered that Brown had grown a half inch or so. He's now officially a 7-footer.
As for Brown's growth on the court? "I have to be solid and ready to wash the taste of the first two seasons out of my mouth," says the 248-pound forward. "I have to be a natural basketball player."
That sounds as if Brown is acknowledging that he has been a disappointment, a notion that's reinforced by his tepid stats (two-year averages of 6.2 points and 4.6 rebounds) and the repeated criticism from the departed Michael Jordan and other veterans that Brown did not extend maximum effort. Brown also didn't have—or couldn't find—a true position. Is he an athletic, run-the-court player? Or a back-to-the-basket force who can outjump or overpower opponents? It seems clear that he must become an amalgam of the two, a kind of frontcourt swingman in new coach Eddie Jordan's forward-oriented offense.
Washington's brass is hopeful. "Kwame has shown some real promise that's not based on numbers," says new G.M. Ernie Grunfeld. "It's based on the effort that we get from him on a daily basis. People have to realize that he's still only 21."
Of his decision to drink and drive, a chastened Brown says, "I'm fortunate to be standing right here." How tall he stands during the season will go a long way toward determining whether the Wizards join the playoff hunt.