"He's just a beneficiary of high-volume shooting."
"He played for Providence. He had to do all the scoring."
"Considering how much he shoots, he should be scoring 20."
These are just a few things that NBA teams were thinking while they passed on Providence guard MarShon Brooks in the 2011 NBA draft. In a class that was considered weak by many, Brooks was not taken until pick No. 25, by the Celtics, and then he was immediately traded to the New Jersey Nets.
Brooks exploded onto the scene last season as a Friar when he averaged over 24 points per game in the very competitive Big East Conference. As well as averaging 24 points, Brooks was good for 7.0 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, and 1.5 steals per game. And I really mean exploded; Brooks went off for 52 points against Notre Dame, as well as 43 points against Georgetown.
He certainly had his ups and his downs, and his team did not have much overall success, but Brooks showed us a lot. Apparently NBA scouts weren't impressed.
Some people, including Skip Bayless, were drawing comparisons to the great Kobe Bryant. Let's not get carried away. I am by no means calling MarShon Brooks the next Black Mamba.
However, Brooks will be the steal of the 2011 draft. Here's why.
First off, Brooks has the physical tools to make it in the league. This is always a concern with college players entering the NBA, just because the NBA is the elite of the physical elite. Brooks is about 6'5", which is quality size for a shooting guard. Not to mention he has a 7'1" wingspan, which is extremely long. He could definitely put on a little muscle, but that will come with NBA workouts.
You cannot deny the ability that Brooks has to score the ball. And he can do it all. He handles the ball well and pairs that with his athleticism and long arms to get to the rim. He'll make the three point shot.
But where is at his best is in the mid-range game. This is where the Kobe comparisons were drawn. Brooks was excellent in Providence in mid-range isolation situations where he was in a triple-threat position. All he needs is a little bit of space to get off his shot, which he can usually earn due to the respect that his opponents give his driving ability.
Now, let's not get carried away. There are certainly flaws with his game.
He doesn't play a whole lot of defense. Part of this was probably the Jimmer syndrome; the fact that his team was so reliant on his scoring led to him not wanting to get in foul trouble in the best interest of his team. But then again, part of it is that he's not a very good on-ball defender at this point in his career. He does have the physical tools to become a quality defender—a long wingspan and overall good athleticism. The right coach and the right veteran players should be able to make Brooks a good enough defender. With his offensive game, he doesn't need to be a lockdown defender to leave his mark.
I'm not saying that Brooks will ever make an All-NBA team or even that he will be a consistent All-Star. But this is a league in which players such as Jamal Crawford, Nick Young and Antawn Jamison have been considered good NBA players despite their defensive liabilities. Jamal Crawford has never played real defense in his life, yet he was coveted by highly competitive teams such as the Bulls and the Blazers this past offseason.
Brooks will be the type of player, similar to Crawford, who will be able to carry a team offensively for short periods of time. At the worst, he seems like a nice bench option who can score by himself while the starters are resting. There are tons of teams out there who would love to have a player like that. And at best, he will be a very good shooting guard and one of the best scorers around.
I'm not expecting him to be Kobe Bryant by any stretch. That kind of comparison just isn't fair for a rookie. But look for him to be a new version of Jamal Crawford.
And at pick 25, can you really go wrong? I can guarantee that he will not be looked at as the 25th best player in this draft down the line. Don't be surprised when he ends up being one of the top five or 10 players of this class.
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