The Brooklyn Nets will run out a flurry of new players on Saturday when they take on the Toronto Raptors in their season and home opener, but it will be a second-year player in the league (and on the Nets, for that matter) that steals the spotlight.
MarShon Brooks played well in his rookie season. In just over 29 minutes per game, he averaged 12.6 points, 2.3 assists and 3.6 rebounds. He started 47 of the 56 games that he appeared in.
This season, Brooks will have a much different role with the team.
After the acquisition of Joe Johnson, Brooks lost his role as a starter. Not only that, it looks like his minutes will be cut significantly from the 29.4 per game that he averaged last season.
He is also capable of playing point guard, but Deron Williams and C.J. Watson will be playing nearly all of the minutes there.
This leaves Brooks as one of the more dynamic sixth men in the game, albeit in a role that will probably see him play around 15 minutes per game.
Look for Brooks to make a statement in the Nets' opener against the Raptors. He wants to show Avery Johnson that he should be playing more than 15 minutes per contest, and he'll look for opportunities to score whenever he touches the ball.
Even though the Nets boast a very dynamic starting five—Williams, Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez—bench play will be important to their overall success this season.
Is Brooks capable of producing that line in limited time?
Brooks is undoubtedly their best reserve in terms of pure scoring, so he should play a big role all season long.
In the opener, I expect no less than 15 points from him. He should look to be aggressive and drive into the lane. While he only averaged 2.6 free throw attempts per game last season, I can see him taking anywhere from six to eight free throws on Saturday.
He'll be looking to score, so I wouldn't expect too many assists from him. Don't be surprised if he grabs four or five rebounds, however.
Brooks' play in the opener will determine whether or not the Nets start their time in Brooklyn with a win or a loss.
If he puts up the kind of numbers that I'm predicting, there's no reason why the Nets should lose their opener against the Raptors.