Before the season started, I was asked to write about which rookie would have a greater impact on the Nets—MarShon Brooks or Jordan Williams. Looking back on the subject, it's actually pretty humorous, seeing how great of an impact MarShon had this season compared to WIlliams. While Williams is averaging 4.4 points per game and even had a trip to the D-League, Brooks averages 12.5 on the year and is handing out two dimes a game. Brooks earned himself a spot in the Rising Stars Challenge during the All-Star break and has been in the ROY race all year long.
For a disappointing season filled with injuries, blowouts, unsuccessful free agent campaigns and a star who doesn't show much interest in playing for the Nets anymore (Deron Williams), MarShon Brooks has been a lone source of hope for the Nets. Well, he was.
Another source of hope was added to the lackluster roster of the Nets midway through the season when the front office decided to give Gerald Green a second chance to play in the NBA. And, while it is a commonly held belief that "third time's the charm," Green has proven otherwise. In just 26 games (none of which he started), Green has scored 339 points, which is good enough for 13 points per game. However, Green's impact goes far beyond the box score, as any Nets fan would tell you. Green can score in bunches—his 32-point effort on Sunday proves that; but when all is said and done, the truth is that nobody's going to remember that game.
On the contrary, fans WILL remember plays like this. By bringing his 6' 8'' frame and 48 vertical to New Jersey, Green has brought something to the Nets that hasn't been present ever since Jason Kidd was shipped to Dallas—excitement. I mean, when was the last time the Nets even threw an alley-oop before they got Gerald Green??
I was in attendance at two Nets games this year—one before they acquired Green and one after they got him. Since it's difficult to portray the atmospheres of the two games through words, let's just say that I could literally read a book in peace at the game before Green, whereas I could barely hear my friends in the second one. It's not as if the opposing team played a factor either—in fact, the first, quieter game was actually a neck-to-neck game with the Thunder, while the game with Green was a blowout loss against the Bucks.
In a way, Gerald Green is to the Nets what Jeremy Lin is to the Knicks: not loaded with talent, but will get the fans excited and in their seats. It's pretty hard to take your eyes off the screen when these two are playing.
While Gerald Green has been attracting fans and giving the Nets their first SportsCenter top play in over a decade, MarShon Brooks has taken a step back ever since Green came to NJ. In the month of March, Brooks averaged a mere 10 points per game, opposed to 15.2 in December, before Green was making headlines across the league. Nonetheless, Brooks has gotten back in his groove and is playing well in his usual role as the starting two guard. The promising rookie has been overshadowed by Green as of late, but his impact for the Nets in the beginning of the season (when D-Will and MarShon were the only guys on the team who looked like actual NBA players) cannot be overlooked.
Brooks made some mistakes here and there that will surely go away with time, but for the most part, Brooks was key to the Nets' rotation early on. With his impressive start early on, many fans became believers and some were even making comparisons to Kobe. To be honest, I see it. The tough fade-away jumpers and difficult shots in traffic resemble much of Kobe's game.
Gerald Green was better than any draft pick the Nets could've gotten this year (OK, besides Anthony Davis). MarShon was a tremendous steal. Both players are on the upswing. Both players are still young (26 and 23 respectively). And both players are going to be huge for the Nets in these upcoming seasons.
Whether they're part of a blockbuster trade that lands them a superstar or remain to play the role that they have been playing, there is no doubt that these two new Nets will be critical for the organization's success for years to come.
With that being said, it is difficult to pick who had a bigger role for New Jersey the Nets' somewhat-successful season. A slight advantage points toward Gerald Green, who has dug the Nets out of a hole and turned the Nets into a legitimate team. Sure, the Nets are no Finals contender, but they have proven that they can take those contenders down (beat both the Bulls and the Clippers) now that they have Green.
Although Green seemed to have a larger role and impact for the Nets this past season, he most likely will not next year. I expect MarShon Brooks to take his game to a whole new level and eventually have the greater role for the upcoming team. In terms of potential, Brooks beats Green any day. I mean, people are comparing him to Kobe!