Commentary: MarShon Brooks Is A Humble Scorer. Weird.
Last night against the Celtics, in what just so happened to be the very first start of his promising professional career, I was able to watch MarShon Brooks play basketball for the very first time. As the Boston Herald’s Dan Duggan points out in this piece, Brooks was astonishing. He scored 17 points on 16 shots, (with 0 assists; sad face) and confounded a Celtics defense that is just beginning to round itself into their elite level. In the first half he was active off the ball, using screens to get open like he’d been doing it all his life; according to Synergy, of the nine plays New Jersey ran with isolation, Brooks scored on four of them.
He was aggressive, smooth, and confident, which, when examining the context, should not be expected of a rookie making his first professional start, knowing the night’s scoring responsibilities were hanging heavy on his shoulders, on the road against a veteran Celtics team that’s primarily known for stopping individual explosions.
Eventually the Celtics did just that, but what continued to impress me long after the Nets came up way short in a blowout loss, were Brooks’ post game comments detailing why his second half wasn’t as strong as his first. He gave credit where credit was due, uttering humble statements not normally heard from basketball’s typecast, one-dimensional scorers. The expected verbiage here would normally fall under “my shot just wasn’t falling” or “tonight wasn’t my night”. Brooks went deeper. He was introspective.
“I learned a lot, just the coverages and where the double teams come from and things like that. I was having success posting up in the first half. Coach tried to go back to me posting up in the second half and just little things like where the double team is coming from (was a problem). They come from different angles in the NBA as opposed to college. I have to learn to attack the other way going away from the double team.
Boston did a good job of adjusting at halftime, throwing some double-teams at me. It was my first time getting double-teamed in this league so I just didn’t know how to get my shot off.
It’s very frustrating. It happened at the end of the first half and I was feeling it. I thought it was going to be a big game and then that happened and it slowed me down a little bit.”
(Quick Tangent: The comments also shined a bit of light on the coaching differences between Avery Johnson and Doc Rivers. Obviously I’m not going to say Avery’s a worse coach because he lost last night’s game…nobody on the planet could’ve motivated the likes of Jordan Farmar, Mehmet Okur, and Sundiata Gaines to beat the likes of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, and 6th Man of the Year candidate Brandon Bass, but still there were a few things to take away from Brooks’ comments. Once the double teams began to blanket what Brooks wanted to do, Johnson could’ve gone away from the isolation sets more and start having his rookie curl off screens for spot up jumpers or man the pick and roll a bit more. Looking at the game on Synergy, Brooks wasn’t posting up much in the game, let alone at all in the second half, so I’m not sure where that comment comes from, but regardless, whenever he put the ball on the floor, Boston made him look stagnant and confused. I know Avery Johnson was short on options, but being an NBA coach isn’t easy. Doc Rivers and his coaching staff made adjustments while the Nets kept on truckin’. That might be meaningless when looking at last night’s game and the overwhelming talent disparity, but on the larger scale it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.)
Sometimes, in the current age of obsessive analytical slobber, we as a basketball watching community tend to overlook the value of someone who can score points. Not rebound in the clouds, pass with an eagle’s vision, or defend like Mookie Blaylock. Just score. In part, this is due to the Nick Young/Jamal Crawford types who are eternally exposed as possession killing machines of ineffiency, but last I checked, the game of basketball’s most important statistic, forever unless the rules change, is total points scored. It’s an ability and a mentality that can’t be learned at the NBA’s level. Teaching someone to pass is a lot easier than teaching them to create in an isolated situation, and it’s for this reason that using a first round draft pick on Marshon Brooks could end up being a genius move for the Nets.
According to Hoopdata, 58% of his shots (all those between 3 and 23 feet) have been created entirely on his own, with no assist from a teammate whatsoever. That number lingers in depths so ridiculously deep, not even Kobe Bryant would dare dream of diving in. For a rookie to start his career with this fearlessness, scoring the ball and showing an ability and willingness to attack at will, is just awesome.
Something tells me second halves like the one Marshon Brooks had last night will be few and far between throughout his career. He’s taking his lumps now, swallowing his pride, and learning all the league has to throw. MarShon Brooks is nowhere near his team’s best player. But right now, in the most desperate of times, he might be their greatest hope.