Forget Jeremy Lin winning the MVP at this weekend’s NBA All-Star Rising Stars Challenge. For my money, MarShon Brooks will hoist the hardware.
The Nets guard has already proven he’s one of the top three rookies in the league—and by far the biggest steal of the 2011 NBA Draft. So why would it stop now?
It won’t, especially because Brooks should be motivated by his second draft-day oversight.
After getting selected by the Boston Celtics No. 25 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft, then promptly being traded to the Nets for the 27th pick and some guy named JaJuan Johnson and a second-round pick, Brooks has thrived in his rookie season in New Jersey.
He’s averaging 14.2 points, four boards and two assists per game, making him a serious contender for the Rookie of the Year award and the runaway winner of the Biggest Steal of the Draft award.
But even after his fantastic first half of the season, Brooks wasn’t even one of the first nine players selected in the Rising Stars Challenge draft between Shaq and Sir Charles. Brooks fell to the No. 10 spot, where he was chosen by Barkley, who wound up getting the steal of the draft a second time.
Just a quick recap for Shaq: Morris averages eight points and five boards as a forward. Brooks averages 14 and four as a guard.
Come on Shaq, you’re from Newark (N.J.). You should know Brooks is lighting it up in Brick City and having a much better season than Morris.
And as for George, who plays the same position as Brooks, he averages two fewer points than Brooks. Hmm, wonder who I would pick.
While all this draft day oversight doesn’t make much sense to me, it should fuel Brooks’ fire. He’s said all year that the NBA Draft oversight has motivated him, and then he’s gone out and proven it.
Brooks has been one of the best mid-range shooters in the NBA this year. He kind of reminds me of a young Rip Hamilton, with his ability to get around screens, find holes in the middle of the defense and nail the open 12-15 footer.
He also has the quickness and athleticism to get out on the break and finish around the rim and the leaping ability to slam it home—anyone see his fast-break dunk against the Knicks? He still needs to work on his 3-point shooting and put on a few more pounds of muscle. But overall he’s been one of the best surprises in the NBA.
That’s a big reason why I think he can do well in the Rising Stars game. This is, for him, the best chance to make a name for himself on the national stage. It’s not as if the Nets are getting on national TV anytime soon, and the Rising Stars game has become one of the most watched events of All-Star weekend, making it the perfect time for Brooks to introduce himself to fans outside of the Tri-State area.
For Lin, this is just another game. He's already the talk of the NBA, already a worldwide star, already featured on every sports show, website, talk show and blog. He doesn't need this. He doesn't need to go out and bust his you-know-what to make a name for himself or secure an endorsement contract. That's all going to be handed to him at the end of the year no matter what happens.
So why would he go out and try to put on a show in the Rising Star game? The answer is he won't.
For Brooks, this is his biggest chance to put himself on the NBA map and shine on the national stage. He’s already proven to be the steal of the 2011 draft. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the steal of the 2012 Rising Stars game too.
Can anyone say MVP?